"Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (v.14)
This side of eternity you and I are called to wait. We're called to recognize that the most important, most essential, most beautiful, and most lasting things in our life are things over which we have no control. No, these things are the gracious gifts of a loving Father. He never is foolish in the way he dispenses his gifts. He never plays favorites. He never mocks our neediness. He never plays bait and switch. He never teases or toys with us. His timing is always right and the gifts that he gives are always appropriate to the moment. He is kind, faithful, loving, merciful, and good.
The One on whom we wait is a dissatisfied Messiah. He will not relent, he will not quit, he will not rest until ever promise he has made been fully delivered. He will not turn from his work until every one of his children has been totally transformed. He will continue to fight until the last enemy is under his feet. He will reign until his kingdom has fully come. As long as sin exists, he will shower us with forgiving, empowering, and delivering grace. He will defend us against attack and attack the enemy on our behalf. He will be faithful to convict, rebuke, encourage, and comfort. He will continue to open the warehouse of his wisdom and unfold for us the glorious mysteries of his truth. He will stand with us through the darkness and the light. He will guide us on a path we could never have discovered or would never have been wise enough to choose. He will supply for us every good thing that we need to be what he's called us to be and to do what he's called us to do in the place where he's put us. And he will not rest from his work until every last microbe of sin has been completely eradicated from every heart of each of his children!
Yet, with all of this being true, we find it hard to wait. We aren't always "strong" in our waiting. No, waiting for many of us becomes a time for increasing fear, doubt, discouragement and susceptibility to temptation. As faith grows weak, our resolve begins to dim, and we begin to secretly wonder if its worth it to obey.
Why? Why do we struggle to be "strong and take heart," when we are being called to wait? Perhaps the answer is found in Romans 4: 18-21.
"Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it has been said to him, 'So shall your offspring be.' Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead - since he was about a hundred years old - and that Sarah's womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had the power to do what he had promised."
Why did Abraham grow stronger in faith as he waited those many long years? It isn't because he played mental denial games. No, the passage makes it very clear that he faced the facts of the situation head on. In his time of waiting, Abraham had a very different experience than we often do because Abraham did something that we often fail to do. Here it is. The temptation, in times of waiting, is to focus on the thing we are waiting for, all the obstacles that are in the way, our inability to make it happen, and all of the other people who haven't seemed to have had to wait. Along with this we rehearse to ourselves how essential the thing is and how much we are daily losing in its absence. All of this increases our feeling of helplessness, our tendency to think our situation is hopeless, and our judgment that waiting is futile.
While it's true that Abraham considered the facts, they weren't the focus on his meditation. No, his focus was on the God who had made this promise. Everyday Abraham would get up and remind himself that the God who'd made the promises on which he was waiting was absolutely able to deliver them. The God who made heaven and earth would have no trouble causing an old woman to deliver a promised child! Abraham didn't fill his mind with his own weakness and the seeming futility of the situation. No, he filled his mind again and again with the glory of God's immeasurable power, and as he did, he grew stronger and stronger in faith.
Somewhere in your life you are being called to wait. In your waiting, you are being given an opportunity to deepen and strengthen your faith. So, get up tomorrow and fill yourself with vitamins of truth. Nourish your heart with the nutrient food of the glory of God. Feed on the strength-giving meat of his goodness, grace, and love. Snack throughout the day on his power and his presence. And watch the muscles of your heart grow stronger as the days go by. Feed on your Lord and be strong!