If strength comes to those who wait, then what can we do while we try doing the nearly impossible task of waiting?
We’ve heard it quoted, seen the pictures of it, even listened to Lincoln Brewster’s son recite it: “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31, NASB). It sounds blissful. Empowering. Energizing. Wait on the Lord; rise on the wings of eagles. Sign me up!
But here’s the kicker: wait. No, I don’t mean wait to hear the kicker, I’m saying that is the “deal-breaker.” If only it said “those who clean 5 toilets a day” or “those who visit a shut-in every week,” but no, it says the one thing I find most challenging: wait.
It’s sad to admit, but I’ve looked up Isaiah 40:31 in various translations, hoping for a word I have a better shot at achieving, but it was just that: hoping. The NIV says, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Ah, hope! Yes, I hope in the Lord. I believe in Him and His mighty power. I know He will restore all things. I know, which is so very different than hoping.
I don’t have room to hide presents in cabinets and under my bed like I normally do prior to Christmas since all of those places are already brimming with other things like clothes, toys, and who knows what else. Without a place to hide them, I decided to wrap so each present the day I bought it and place it under the tree.
“This one is a Fly Guy book,” my Bubba proudly declared last week as he held up a gift.
“How could you possibly know that?” I asked.
“Because it’s square and flat. And this is a Lego set,” he announced as he shook a box. “But I was also hoping to get some Bionicles. Don’t worry, Mom. You can still go to that big toy store over by the mall and get some for me before Christmas.”
Whoa! Stop the mini-van! Since when does my kid get to tell me what he wants, where to buy it, and when to have it by? Since he started hoping, that’s when. No, he really shouldn’t boss me around (although his last name is Voss and he has somehow come to believe that his sister is not the ‘Voss’ of him).
Yet for as off as Gabe was in telling me what I needed to add under the tree, he was spot-on for reminding me of the meaning of hope. Hope isn’t an “oh, I hope the winning lottery ticket flies through my window.” It isn’t that, “I can’t imagine this will happen, but I sure hope it does.” Hope is the confidence of a little boy who just knows he’s going to get a Bionicle (although he added it to the list after this elf finished her shopping).
You know, that last set of parenthesis makes me pause. I don’t want to include it because it somehow takes away from the point of the story and turns into a little boy’s tears Christmas morning when he gets so many great things, but apparently not the thing. But it also makes me want to recheck my budget and see if there’s a little wiggle room for a $10 toy. Why? Because I just adore that kid. He’s crazy awesome and way too lovable. But more than that, he’s my son.
Tears well in my eyes. Scratch that: they’re now streaming. How many times in my waiting–that seemingly tortuous thing of day in and day out not knowing the why’s, when’s, where’s, or how’s of my life–that my Who reminds me, guides me, provides for me, and oh mercy, loves me in the most lavish of ways.
Oh, child, don’t you know that I love you?
Yes, Lord, I know. I know, and yet so often I forget. I’m so, so sorry. Help me love you more, to trust you more, to listen more, but perhaps more than anything else, teach me to hope in you like never before.
What does hope look like for you? And dare I ask, but how do you go about hoping in your days of waiting?