Summary: One of the hardest things to do is wait on God. But what if God is waiting on you? This message pivots off of Isaiah 30:18 and explores that possibilities and its implications for us.
During the last few months I have been waiting on the Lord for some things. And to be honest with you, I have felt frustrated that answers were not coming more quickly. I know God is omnipotent—so if the answer is not coming, it’s not because He’s unable to do it. The problem is not too big for Him to solve. He made my body; He can certainly heal my body. He created all the wealth of the world by His word; He can certainly meet my financial needs. My rent payment is not too big of a problem for Him to solve. My relationships are not too complex for Him to fix. “Is anything too hard for God?” Yet here I am waiting on Him for answers and wondering why the delay.
That’s when God took me to our text this morning in Isaiah 30.
As I read that chapter in the Amplified version, I suddenly saw something I have never seen there before. The pivotal verse is verse 18. Follow with me as I read it in the Amplified version.
“And therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who (earnestly) wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him (for His victory; His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship)!”
When I read the first sentence in that verse, I realized the possibility that more than me waiting on God—God is waiting on me! God is waiting on me? “And therefore, (Richard), the Lord (earnestly) WAITS (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you….” That’s a different perspective. I am painfully aware that I’m waiting on something; not nearly so aware that God would be waiting. Why would He need to wait for anything? That’s the heart of this message. But first we must talk about how God waits.
We have many scriptural windows into how God waits. Look at His interaction with Jonah. God tells him to go to Nineveh; Jonah goes the other direction to Tarshish. He makes his own decision about where he will go. God actively waits on Jonah to come around. He sends a storm; then He sends a fish to swallow Jonah. In the midst of all that trouble, Jonah calls outi on the Lord; and the Lord delivers him. God is patiently bringing Jonah around. Jonah preaches to Nineveh and the city repents. Instead of rejoicing in their salvation, Jonah is upset with God. Now this is an all-powerful God who could have just said, “Jonah, I’ve had it with you. I am sick and tired of your attitude. We’re done.” But what does God do? He reasons with Jonah. In fact, that book ends with God waiting on Jonah to come around.
When God revealed Himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6, He emphasized His own willingness to wait. “And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth….” (KJV). Instead of the word longsuffering, most versions say, “slow to anger.” Where would we be today, if God was not longsuffering? Do we have any Jonah’s in the house?
Peter reminded the Christians of his day, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (KJV) 2 Peter 3:9.
And so it is so here in our text in God’s dealings with His people Israel—God waits, “And therefore the Lord (earnestly) waits (expecting, looking, and longing) to be gracious to you….” Notice the description of how God waits:
“Earnestly”—He is emotionally involved in the process. He does not sit back coldly and wait to bless us. He is earnest in His desire to bring good in our lives. Could I suggest that your Heavenly Father is more earnest about bringing blessing to your life than you and I are about receiving it? I’m earnest in my desire to receive God’s blessing. But never, never think God is indifferent about the matter. He sent His own Son to suffer and die for our blessing. His intention toward you is to bless. Paul asked the question in Rom 8:31 “What shall we then say to these things? ….He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (KJV). God waits earnestly to answer our prayers.
God waits “expectantly” as well. God is extremely hopeful about you and me. He will not force us to serve Him. He will not turn us into robots. But He will work in our lives with the expectation of bringing us into the fullness of His purposes and blessings. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, I picture the father (who is representative of our Heavenly Father) looking and longing and hopeful toward his child’s response to Him. Luke 15:20 describes the event when the prodigal was returning to the father, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (KJV). That father was earnestly, expectantly, looking and longing for that day. That’s why he saw him coming even when he was still a long way off.