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As I read Isaiah this week (specifically chapter 24), I found myself once again feeling extremely uncomfortable with the prophesied events of the Second Coming. Combine this with the fact that I made the mistake of reading the Horseshoe prophecy (make sure to note the disclaimers that come along with it), and I found myself worrying over whether I would have to find a way to trek my children across thousands of miles in blistering heat or frigid winter. Luckily, along with these Second Coming prophecies in Isaiah, the church also decided to include Isaiah 25 in the reading for this week where we can find this gem.
8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.
9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
So despite the fact that we get to learn about all the impending disasters and all the horrific brutality man has to offer, the Lord saw fit to show us the happy ending as well. This is the climactic moment where the Lord wipes away tears from the faces of those He loves and they speak through the ebbing sobs, “We waited for You; we knew You would come.”
Waiting is the word that fully caught my attention this week, and though it is one of my least favorite things to ponder, I decided to listen to the spirit and explore it anyway. There are different types of “waiting” that we can talk about. Perhaps one of the following types popped into your mind as I mentioned the subject of today’s post.
We can be waiting for a miracle we desperately need. We can be waiting for the Second Coming. We can be waiting for a trial to end, an answer to arrive, or a promised blessing. There are a million things we can potentially wait for, and I want to talk about a couple of specific types in the context of this Isaiah verse.
To overcome a particular temptation or habit
It’s interesting to think about the concept of waiting to overcome personal shortcomings, but it is a true principle nonetheless. No matter how hard we may pray or how hard we may work at it, there may be some weaknesses that we do not overcome in this life. Perhaps it’s from a past addiction or maybe you simply have a tendency towards a particular sin.
You would think the Lord would be eager to help us overcome those shortcomings as soon as possible. The second our hearts are in a place where we don’t want those sins to bother us anymore, He would be thrilled and help us be perfect just like He commanded us to be.
And yet here I am, sorely tempted to kill my son for finding my spray sunscreen during naptime and covering my room in a fine layer of mist.
No matter how hard I try to be the kind of mom who appreciates my son for his curious mind and high energy, I find myself ready to throttle him on a regular basis. No matter how many books and parenting theories I read, no matter how much I try to appreciate this short period of time when he is so small, no matter how much I plead every morning for help overcoming my temper, my little man often ends up with the brunt of my frustration. I literally have a goal to pray every morning to overcome the temptation to yell. I wish I was more than I am. I wish that I could be everything he needs; I wish that I never had to be his trial.
Ah…but that’s not how life works.
I think many of us picture a God who gets super excited whenever we triumph and looks very sad or angry whenever we make a mistake and hurt others or ourselves. I’m sure that many times, He does experience those emotions. However, I also think He is much wiser than that.
If His entire goal for us was to avoid sin entirely, (first of all, He would have gone with Satan’s plan), He would be willing to answer our pleas to overcome our sins immediately. If that’s really what He was after, He would jump in the second we asked for help. He would take away those weaknesses and give us the strength to never falter in our obedience again.
But alas, His goal is not avoidance of sin; it is our happiness and growth (and eventual perfection).
If I were lifting weights, I could ask the Lord to make me strong enough to bench tremendous amounts of weight. He could answer that prayer and give me the power to lift it, but He would also be robbing me of character development. Perhaps He would even be robbing me of building muscle because He lifted the weight, not me. In the long run, He would be robbing me of happiness. In the beginning, it might feel exhilarating to feel like everything is easy, but things would get boring pretty quickly.
There will be specific times in your life when the Lord does give you the power to bench that crazy weight; there will be times that call for that kind of miracle. But for the most part, He is wise enough to understand that taking away our temptations and weaknesses will not actually make us strong. The only way to make us stronger is to leave the weight upon us and help us work through it.
And so we wait. We wait and believe that He loves us regardless. We wait and remind ourselves that our weaknesses are a gift even though that may seem contradictory in nature. We wait and remember that He isn’t worried about you becoming perfect tomorrow; He is a firm believer in your ability to progress and true progress would be impossible to attain if He simply “made us perfect” today.
Sometimes it is a mere annoyance to wait for the ability to overcome our sinful tendencies. Other times, it is a deeply painful experience. It hurts to try and pull ourselves out of addiction; it hurts to plead for the same forgiveness over and over. It hurts to fall again and again and to worry about how we might have irreparably hurt our loved ones. Don’t let the discouragement stop you from trying. Believe that the Lord will wipe away their tears just as He will wipe away your tears one day. Wait on Him; He knows what He’s doing and even in the process of falling and getting up, falling and getting up, falling and getting up, He is building you in ways that you cannot yet fathom.
Waiting for a specific blessing
Sometimes we are left waiting for specific blessings.
This is an extremely temporal example, but I like temporal examples because they’re concrete and teach principles clearly. Once the principle is understood, it makes it easier to apply in other areas.
There have been times in my marriage where my husband and I have found ourselves on financially unstable ground (like almost any other human in existence). There have been times when we’ve been trying to build from the ground up, but there have also been times when we had plenty of savings but found them dwindling quickly. It’s extremely stressful to watch those numbers go down as I’m sure most people can understand.
It’s very easy to plead with the Lord to come and help you quickly. It makes sense to pray that He would help you find a new job or new avenues of income before the bank account hits zero; sometimes He obliges before things feel desperate. However, I think the Lord likes waiting until the last minute. The widow of Zarephath had enough food for one last meal before the Lord sent the prophet. Moses was backed up against the Red Sea with the Egyptian armies rapidly approaching before the waves parted. The Lord likes the last second, and there are practical reasons for this. As we’ve discussed previously, those practical reasons usually revolve around growth. Heavenly Father isn’t worried about whether we have enough in our bank account; that’s the easy miracle. He is worried about us changing to be the best we can be.
Understanding this principle can be helpful as we try to hold on through the tough times, but those fears sure have a way of breaking through our resolve to be faithful.
The Spirit recently helped me gain a new perspective recently as I’ve tried to work through my own worries.
Going back to the example of financial insecurity, I realized that because I have the Lord on my side, I’m rich. Like literally rich. I have unlimited resources with which to draw upon even if it’s not currently in my bank account.
Sometimes I wonder about that widow of Zarephath. The prophet promised her that her food would never run out, and it didn’t. I wonder if she woke up in the morning to find a full barrel of meal. Did she drain it only to wake up one morning to a full barrel again? Perhaps the barrel never looked empty again. Perhaps there was only enough in the barrel for one more meal every single time she opened it.
Regardless of whether she could see the resources in her barrel, those resources were there. She was rich.
Maybe we can’t take a vacation anywhere in the world, but I believe the Lord will help Conner and I provide for our kids. There may be times when the barrel looks empty, but if I look through the lens of the Lord, I can see the bottomless resources.
This is true of anything we’re worried about. We’re worried about whether we’ll have enough time to accomplish all that we need to; you will have the time you need to accomplish the good that you need to accomplish. We worry about having the strength to get through something; we will have the strength and replenishment we need. We will have what we need. Even though I’m a perpetual worrier, I testify (because the Spirit often reminds me) that I don’t have to worry while I wait.
I testify of a Savior that we can wait on. We can expect Him to show up. We can expect Him to deliver. We don’t have to be afraid that He won’t. And when the tears and fears come (because even when we have a testimony, it’s still hard), He won’t be angry. He will merely wipe them from our faces.