hope in waiting


Waiting can be a big deal. Waiting isn’t always a simple action we perform (e.g. waiting for the bus), but can also characterize a part of who we are. Waiting, in many instances, is a condition placed upon our lives. And it's hard.

Waiting for the birth of a child illustrates such a condition. Three days past due, Julie and I are in the midst of waiting to meet out second child. And such waiting, while filled with much hope and anticipation, isn’t always easy. We are impatient. Come on baby, come out already! It’s a helpless feeling, really.

In our impatience to meet baby, I was led to read this famous Bible passage in Isaiah: “those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31 NRSV). This verse offers a good reminder to place my focus on God and remember the promise that strength lies in God’s work in our lives. Timely words, no doubt.

Trouble is, the verse can easily become shallow sentimentality, not affecting the situation whatsoever. Nice words, but no difference to me. Or, we put all our energy on the renewal/strength part. But when renewal and strength don’t ensue, we get frustrated. Again, nice words, but for us, we want the baby out now (especially Julie!)! Insert your own pressing situation and I think you’ll understand.

We too easily neglect the waiting in the Isaiah passage. We think waiting, with God’s help, is the part to overcome. Yet in the Hebrew of Isaiah, waiting is an integral part to the experience of the faith journey. Not negative or passive as we often see it, the word insinuates intention on our part. Waiting is active. And more importantly, waiting is hopeful. Hence the NIV, “those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”

As I find renewal and strength still absent (and likely the case in some ways for the next several months with a newborn baby!), I’m trying to place my waiting in the right context. It’s necessary, even good. But it’s still hard and I’m still impatient. Yet I’m hopeful. In the Bible, bizarre for us fast-paced moderners, waiting and hope are the same thing.

Waiting needs hope. Waiting is hope.


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