Are You Tired of Waiting?
We don’t like to wait. This characteristic can be witnessed in the smallest of children. When my youngest grandson decides it’s time to nurse, there is no rest for the ears until his request is honored. Grandchildren a few years older stand around the ice cream freezer asking, “Is it ready yet?” The last time they stood around the churning freezer the “Is it ready yet?” was repeated more than usual because the paddle had accidentally been left out of the canister.
As believers we often get tired of waiting. Though we’d be embarrassed to verbally voice it, we sometimes think that God has waited too long. After waiting 25 years for a promised son, Abraham believed God had waited a bit too long: “Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?” (Genesis 17:17b). But within the year Abraham was holding the promised son in his arms.
The timing was right! God caused Isaac to be born at the right time in history so that, among other things, his grandson Joseph would spare the young nation Israel from starvation.
In Scripture the word wait is sometimes paired with patiently. The psalmist declares, “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him…” Every bone in our body is crying “hurry up,” but the LORD says “wait patiently.” David gives testimony to the blessing of patiently waiting: “I waited patiently for the LORD, and He inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And He hath put a new song in mouth, even praise unto our God; many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:1-3).
My Situation is Impossible!
Many times in the course of our lives we find ourselves in the midst of seemingly impossible circumstances. Fear, and even despair, can grip our hearts and leave us believing there is no hope. But for the true believer who has put his or her faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:9-10), we are invited before the throne of our Savior Who specializes in impossibilities. “Let us, therefore, come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
In the book of Genesis record is given of a most dreadful situation. A mother found herself alone in the wilderness with her child. Given only a bottle of water, they had been expelled from the place where they had lived. We read, “And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lifted up her voice, and wept” (Genesis 21:15-16). As the heat of the day were on, humanly there was no hope. But in the middle of this impossibility we find the wonderful words, “And God heard…” (v. 17). Hopeless despair was immediately replaced with God’s provision. “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink” (v. 19).
Hundreds of times in Scripture we read of impossibilities met by God’s provision:
“She hath no child and her husband “And the woman conceived,
is old” (2 Kings 4:14) and bare a son” (2 Kings 4:17)
“There was death in the pot” “There was no harm in the pot”
(2 Kings 4:40) (2 Kings 4:41)
“The axe head fell into the water” “the iron did swim”
(2 Kings 6:5) (2 Kings 6:6)
“All hope that we should be saved “They escaped all safe to land”
was taken away” (Acts 27:20) (Acts 27:44)
After sharing with Mary miraculous things, the angel Gabriel explained how these impossibilities would become realities: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Impossibilities are God’s specialty!
Gladness or Gloom
We’ve talked about trials several times, but such things are a part of life. Even the greatest and best of men and women have been nurtured through the trials of life. But how do we respond or react to difficulties? What is our perspective when experiencing troubles?
When writing to the believers in Jesus Christ living in Corinth, Paul blurts out, “I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (2 Corinthians 7:4b). How could Paul have such overflowing joy in all his troubles, even when he and others “had no rest, but…were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (7:5)? It was because “God… comforted us…” (7:6). God was with them.
The believers in Macedonia were going through “a great trial of affliction,” but it was in that affliction that “the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (8:2). They had an abundance of joy which their poverty could not take from them. They had very little to give to meet the need of others, yet they gave out of their deep poverty. They were not whining or begging for themselves; but, being filled with joy, they gave.
The apostle Paul shared with the believers the sufferings he experienced in life. He mentions being “in stripes above measure; in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep” (11:23-25). Paul went on to share other perils and difficulties of life (11:26-29), and yet, even with his “thorn in the flesh,” God gave him the grace to endure (12:1-9). Paul’s response? “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong” (12:10). Be glad instead of gloomy!
One of the amazing declarations in the life of Joseph was that of the personal presence of God in the midst of his troubles. After his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:28), who then sold him in Egypt to Potiphar (37:36), we read, “And the LORD was with Joseph” (39:2; cf. Acts 7:9, 10). Can you imagine how Joseph felt when his own brothers hated him so much that they sold him into slavery? But any feelings of rejection and abandonment were washed away through the love of God’s presence. God hadn’t abandoned him at any time. Egypt couldn’t keep God out. Joseph was not feeling sorry for himself. He would live in the joyful presence of God. It made such a difference that his owner saw God in his life. “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand” (39:3). Joseph was even promoted above all others in Potiphar’s household (39:4-6).
But then came another trial. Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, but Joseph escaped after he had declared that he would not sin against God (39:7-12). Because she couldn’t get her way, she falsely accused Joseph of trying to molest her (39:13-18), and Joseph was thus put into prison for a crime he did not commit (39:19-20). Where was God in all of this? “But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (39:21). Why would He allow this to happen? God had a greater plan than what Joseph could imagine. God’s plan for his life was perfect. Joseph could rest in the comfort of knowing that God was working on his behalf for a greater purpose. And so “the keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper” (39:23).
Facing overwhelming trials? You don’t have to go through them alone. Yield your life to God and He will be with you forever (Hebrews 13:5b).
The Bible gives the record of the lives of men and women, revealing both the good and bad. God has obviously purposely allowed these unfiltered accounts for our spiritual benefit. No clearer example exists than the little book of Jonah. Because we are made of the same clay, it is important for us to pay close attention.
The prophet Jonah had just observed an amazing result coming from his preaching. One of the largest cities of the ancient world had repented and turned from their evil. God alerted the prophet to the wonderful news -- the city and its tens of thousands of people would be spared from destruction.
Jonah’s response was to throw a temper tantrum. The city of Nineveh was Israel’s national enemy and in Jonah’s mind God should not save our enemies. Several of the details which follow are very instructive for the believer who desires to avoid the irrational trap of temper.
The cause of Jonah’s anger is clearly revealed: “But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry” (Jonah 4:1). Jonah didn’t get his way and he was angry, very angry. The prophet’s anger was quick, contrasted with God’s anger in the next verse: “slow to anger” (v. 2). When our anger flashes because our selfish will has been stepped upon, a great caution should fill our hearts. Slow down and carefully, prayerfully consider the matter.
God’s question to Jonah revealed that the prophet’s anger had caused his thinking to become irrational. Two times God asked the angry prophet, “Doest thou well to be angry?” The irrational answer of the prophet revealed his upside-down thinking, “I do well to be angry, even unto death” (4:4, 9).
Temper is dangerous! A sinful city repented and the preacher responds by throwing a temper tantrum. When your temper flashes, it’s time to slow down and prayerfully consider the matter!