By Femi Aribisala
Sometimes, when it seems we are waiting for God; it is actually God that is waiting for us.
On the cross of Calvary, Jesus cried the cry of David, saying: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). By this cry, God became our brother in adversity. Man in Christ cried out to God in frustration and disappointment. God in Christ became our advocate, validating the gospel truth that in our affliction, God is afflicted. (Isaiah 63:9).
But let there be no mistake about it; God would never forsake his children. He says: “Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:14-16).
When it seems God has forsaken or forgotten us, all he is saying is: “Wait!” “‘Therefore wait for me,’ says the Lord.’” (Zephaniah 3:8).
Blessings for waiters
Jeremiah says: “The LORD is good to those who wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:25). We need to know how and why. Isaiah agrees with Jeremiah. He says: “The Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.” (Isaiah 30:18).
All the women in the scriptures who had to wait for God in order to have children ended with special and outstanding children. Sarah had to wait until she was past childbearing age, but she ended up with Isaac (laughter). Rebecca was barren, but she ended up with twins: Esau and Jacob. Hannah was barren, but she ended up with Samuel. Elizabeth was barren but she ended up with John the Baptist.
Clearly, blessings and pleasant surprises await those who wait for God: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any God besides you, who acts for the one who waits for him.” (Isaiah 64:4).
Waiting for the Lord requires that we pay close attention to the Lord. It means we are constantly on the lookout for God. As a result, when we wait for God, we receive the blessing of seeing him at work. This arises from intimacy with the Lord. We are able to see how he builds us up with his word: “Precept, precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” (Isaiah 28:9). When we wait, we grow in grace and in the knowledge of God. (2 Peter 3:18).
Moses knew the call of God was on his life. However, he was impatient, therefore he decided to take matters into his own hands. When he saw an Egyptian beating up a Hebrew, he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. But the next day, he realized that his secret was public knowledge, therefore he ran away from Egypt. He then had to spend the next 40 years in the wilderness with God.
When God finally called him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt, Moses had lost all belief in himself. He told God to send someone else. His feeling of inadequacy was eloquent testimony that he was finally ready to be used by God. Jesus says: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In effect, those 40 years of waiting were useful and instructive for Moses. They enabled him to understand that the ways of God are not the ways of man. They enabled him to learn the ways of God from God himself. As a result, the psalmist testifies that: “(God) made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7). Because he had to wait for God, Moses received what Israel lacked: the knowledge of God.
Perfecting the saints
The psalmist says with confidence: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me.” (Psalm 138:8). Because the ways of the Lord are perfect, he sometimes says: “Wait!” God sometimes tells us to wait when we are still conformed to the world and are yet to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The purpose that is purposed is that we may prove not only what is good and acceptable to God, but what is the perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2).
Accordingly, God tells us to wait: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you.” (Isaiah 30:18). What this means is that sometimes, when it seems we are waiting for God; it is actually God that is waiting for us. He is waiting for us to grow. He is waiting to be exalted in our hearts and minds.
Isaiah says: “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). Others had seen the Lord but in the case of Isaiah, God waited for King Uzziah to die. As long as Uzziah was alive, the Lord could not be exalted in the heart and mind of Isaiah.
King Uzziah was a mountain impeding Isaiah’s vision. But before the glory of the Lord can be revealed: “Every valley must be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low.” (Isaiah 40:4). Therefore, when we are waiting for the Lord, we need to speak to our mountains: “Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!” (Zechariah 4:7).
Isaac or Ishmael
When we are not inclined to wait, we are likely to mistake Ishmael for Isaac. Tired of waiting for God to give him Isaac, his promised son; Abraham slept with his house girl and she gave birth to Ishmael. He then hoped his Ishmael was God’s Isaac.
This turned out to be a big blunder. Ishmael cannot possibly be Isaac. If it is Isaac, then it would be supernatural and not come by natural birth. If it is Isaac, it would be convoluted and not straightforward. If it is Isaac, it will be by God’s timing and not by man’s timing. Therefore, wait for Isaac.
A 3-year-old girl asked her father for a jerry-can of petrol. The father said: “Wait!” On her 21st birthday, he finally gave her the jerry-can of petrol. “Why did you give me this?” she asked. “You asked for it when you were three,” the father replied.
Sometimes, God keeps us waiting because he wants to ensure that the situation is hopeless. Sarah was barren; but there was hope because Abraham was not. That hope in Abraham led to Ishmael. Therefore, God waited until all hope in Abraham was lost. Then he brought forth Isaac. Isaac only comes from: “he who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20).
Similarly, when Lazarus fell sick and died, Jesus kept his sisters waiting in order to give them a more perfect knowledge of who he is. Then he said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26).