Wait on the Lord

Do you find it easy to trust the Lord everyday? Maybe some days seem easier than others but to use the word “easy” with “trust” appears out of place! Maybe better put, some days we don’t struggle as much as other days to believe the Lord and to rest in His gospel promises. Waiting on the Lord does not end until we stand before Him. So, we can count on the fact that everyday we face the challenge of believing the Lord, learning to wait on Him.

The New Testament’s many exhortations to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are typically put in the Greek present tense, which means, believe and keep on believing. Faith is never to be stagnant. With every new day and every new challenge, we are to keep on believing the Lord. The process of waiting on Him implies believing Him and relying on His faithfulness, even without seeing the end result of what we hope will soon transpire in our lives. Endurance in waiting on Him bears testimony to the roots of faith in Him.

Jesus warned that some would have the type of faith in which the good seed of the gospel is planted in shallow soil. When affliction or persecution arises because of the word, that kind of faith fades away (Matthew 13). It lacks roots—no staying power. The unfortunate testimony of evangelicalism in the past sixty years points to the failure to keep believing the gospel. For many, the gospel is just a temporary religious thing—a quick “get out of hell free card,” but not a lasting commitment to continue relying each day upon Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. That kind of faith is NOT a true faith. It’s a horrible parody. Instead, we’re called to wait upon Him, rely upon Him, and trust Him.

God’s Promises are Relational

Impatience may be at the root of much of our unbelief. We hear the promises of God and think that they imply that He is a cosmic dispensary, ready to dole out all kinds of goodies to us. But God’s promises are always relational. They have to do with bringing us into right relationship with Him and right relationship to His people. They are not about satisfying our cravings but bringing us more and more into His fullness; leading us more and more into a relationship in which we wholly delight in Him and find His pleasure to be our treasure.

Can we imagine the long waiting that Joseph endured? Yet when we see the fruitfulness in his life in those last chapters of Genesis, we discover a man who knew the Lord intimately, who learned to patiently wait on the Lord. His walk with the Lord during those many years of waiting gave evidence of deepening relationship to the Lord, as well as transformative relationship to his brothers who had wronged him. Without learning to wait on the Lord, Joseph could not have responded to his brothers with grace, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20).

Diagnosing our Impatience with the Lord

Yet, despite the biblical examples, we struggle to wait on God—to wait on His strength, His power, His provision, and His gifts—impatiently thinking that God’s promises are about our self-satisfaction rather than about displaying His glory so that we might enjoy Him.

Let me put it another way. We who belong to the Lord acknowledge that we are to live for Him. At least we say that and sing it. But how do we actually live out each day?

  • Do we complain when we don’t get our way instead of realizing that such a circumstance might be the means that the Lord uses to teach us to trust Him?
  • Do we get angry and bitter with others because they don’t please us, instead of considering that this perceived failure in others might be an opportunity for us to show grace and forgiveness and humility as followers of Christ?
  • Do we sulk because circumstances seem to have turned against our desires, when instead, it could be a sanctifying instrument from the Lord to carve away the longings for the flesh?
  • Do we go around with a poor attitude or chip on our shoulders because we think someone else has more than us or has gotten the opportunities that we thought belonged to us, when instead, the Lord is using that kind of situation to teach us that He is all that we have and consequently, we are to find our delight in Him?

Maybe you get the picture. Each day we are to learn anew to trust the Lord and discover that He is all that we have. And it seems to take those daily lessons of waiting and trusting to break through the stubbornness and hardness that often accompanies our spiritual journey.

We see this throughout the Bible, so we’re not the first to struggle to continue trusting Him and waiting on Him. For instance, Abraham received God’s promises but they appeared to be so distant, that the patriarch struggled through lying, begged for a substitute to God’s promise, and listened to his wife’s voice that contradicted the Lord’s. Yet the Lord patiently carried Abraham along until he saw the promise of God begin to unfold. The patriarch discovered with freshness along the extensive pilgrimage of his life that the Lord is sufficient—the Lord is his delight.

Maybe you are in one of those “how long” phases of life, where you wonder if the Lord will ever come through for you. Then, it is not understating your need to gently, with reverberations back to my own heart, to say, “Wait on the Lord.” He is faithful to His people. Waiting time is never wasted time. He comes to us in those periods so that we discover our deepest delights in the Lord.

Phil planted South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee in 1987 and continues to serve as senior pastor of that congregation. He previously pastored churches in Mississippi and Alabama. He received his education at the University of Mobile (B.A.), New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Fuller Theological Seminary (D.Min.), and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D.). Phil and his wife Karen married in 1975, and have five children and seven grandchildren.
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