“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31, KJV
“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58, NIV
Several years ago, I delivered a sermon entitled “Work While You Wait” using today’s Scripture as the focus point. Back then the main message was allowing God to change our perspective on waiting. In 2020, this still stands. Whether we are doing okay during this Corona season or we feel like we are about to go stir-crazy in our homes, we need to wait on the Lord. From Genesis to Revelation, the word “wait” and its variations are mentioned at least 41 times, a clear sign of how important this is. This process doesn’t look like what some may envision: sitting at home or at work, twiddling out thumbs, tapping our feet, or checking our watches.
No, no, no – There is work in the wait.
Doesn’t quite sound right, does it? This perspective isn’t so far-fetched, though when we look at several steps that make it possible:
This week’s verses come from two eras of struggle and uncertainty. In the second half of the book of Isaiah, this was the 50 years of captivity in Babylon, while the temple and walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins. This was 50 years of wondering what would become of the promises of God, of how they- God’s chosen people- would survive. In the first letter to the church at Corinth, almost 600 years later, the struggle was two-fold: Judea under Roman rule, and the early Christian church against Jewish religious leadership. On both fronts, people wondered how long until God would restore Israel, how long until the Son of God would return. Wondering and worrying certainly have not changed, especially for us in 2020. Still, we must pray.
“Duh, what do you think we’ve been doing, Ms. Blogger?” That may be what you’re thinking, right? But lest we be tempted to stress when things beyond our control seem to grow and grow, we’ve got to pray like Big Mama and Paw-Paw. We need this constant, two-way communication to keep us in alignment with God, to understand what He expects us to do when we are going through. But that consistent, intentional prayer helps keep us on the same page as the Lord, because our minds are focused on Him. Prayer begins that shift in our perspective, from when our difficult season will end, to what we do until it does.
The second step is that “T” word, Trust, which is directly tied to prayer. We can’t effectively do one without the other. At all times, our Enemy looks for ways to inject just enough doubt that will make us turn away from the Lord. At all times, he looks for that weak link. Such demonic, ungodly negativity that can come from people we thought were close to us has the power to stretch or break that link in our trust in God. It has the power to shift our perspective inward, come to a complete stop, and dwell on what isn’t happening. It has the power to tempt us to quit on the promises of God, and even to quit on God, period.
In his commentary on 1 Corinthians, Matthew Henry noted how Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to “…be steadfast…firm, fixed in the faith of the gospel, that gospel which he had preached and they had received, namely ‘That Christ died for our sins, and arose again the third day, according to the scriptures (vs 3-4).” Holding fast to what we believe means trusting God. It means refreshing our memory and recalling all the previous rough spots and situations from which God delivered us. It means encouraging ourselves and each other that if God did it then, He will do it again. It means reminding the Enemy about the truth in the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:
- “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” (Psalm 9:10)
- “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:1-2)
- “…If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
As we demonstrate and live that trust in God, I guarantee the Enemy will get somewhere and sit down, because he’ll have to go back to his drawing board and try to find another way to tear us down, and tear us away from our Heavenly Father.
The last step is to act. Further in his commentary, Matthew Henry stated that Paul exhorted the Corinthian church “to abound in the work of the Lord, and that always, in the Lord’s service, in obeying the Lord’s commands. They should be diligent and persevering herein and going on towards perfection; they should be continually making advances in true piety, and ready and apt for every good work. The most cheerful duty, the greatest diligence, the most constant perseverance, become those who have such glorious hopes.”
The work of the Lord is demonstrated in various ways, so please note these are not the only ones:
- Obeying His commands, which Jesus condensed to: “37…‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22: 37-40) ‘Nuff said. 😊
- Realizing and using the gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to 1 Corinthians 12:4-11: Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miraculous Powers, Prophecy, Spiritual Discernment, the Speaking and Interpretation of Languages. These gifts are meant to be used, not worn as accessories. For example, if Faith is your spiritual gift, it is manifested through the encouragement of other struggling people to trust God anyhow, to see what the end will be. By doing this, we open ourselves to receive the encouragement that we need to keep working for the Lord.
- Engaging with people from all walks of life and sharing our story about the Good News. A long time ago, my oldest niece attended what had to be the best daycare in West Texas. The owner made sure those kids knew not only readin’, writin’, and even the Preamble to the Constitution, but also something about the Lord. My niece learned a song that she sang all the time: “I’m just a nobody, trying to tell everybody, about Somebody, who can save anybody.” Can you imagine a four-year-old kid singing this over and over, with enthusiasm and passion?
Even in our struggles, as we wait for that answer or that breakthrough, we are still charged to tell anybody about that Somebody named Jesus Christ. We are still called to testify about the goodness and mercy of the Lord which follow us all the days of our lives. We are still commanded to go and make disciples of all nations. Why, fam? Because we are the only Bible that some people will ever read. We must tell it, meet others where they are and tell our story of how Jesus Christ saved us, and how He’s able to save them, too.
Pray, trust, act, repeat. Pray, trust, act, repeat. We keep doing this because ‘our labor in the Lord is not in vain’. Our work in the wait is not for nothing. Contrary to what anyone else may say, we’re not spinning our wheels for God. Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” He can’t forget the work, because just as He was with the exiles in Babylon and with the Christians in Corinth, He is with us here and now, right in the middle of our trying situations.
And as we keep praying, trusting, and acting in faith, as we refresh His promises in our minds, our perspective on the situation is changed and we press forward. The more we press, God sends us that energy boost to keep us from running on “E”. He gives us that fresh anointing so we can stand up straighter with the confidence of a child of God. Our spirits will soar as if on wings like an eagle, as we keep moving towards the end of our hard season, praising and shouting on purpose. We will come out of this victorious, fam. Keep practicing “P.T.A.” – pray, trust, act – and watch God work.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for keeping us thus far in this trying season. Give us the courage, confidence, and anointing to pray, trust, and act wherever we are so that this world will know the God we love and serve is with us, and will bring us through. This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.