“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Many of us have memorized or at least heard of Jeremiah 29:11. This verse can often be found on Facebook memes, plaques, decorations, coffee mugs, and much more.
Do you know what verse we never see on any of those things?
This verse comes right before Jeremiah 29:11 and it reads:
“You will be in Babylon for seventy years.”
- The Pain of Waiting on God
- What Does Waiting on God Mean?
- What do I do while waiting on God?
- Why is waiting on God so important?
The Pain of Waiting on God
The pain of waiting on God can be seen in this passage.
Because it’s hard to understand how God can in one breath say to the Jewish people, “You will be in Babylon for seventy years”.
And then in the next breath say, “For I know the plans I have for you and they are plans to prosper you and not harm you. To give you hope and a future”.
I don’t know about you but when I think about a future full of hope and prosperity, the last thing I think that future would include is captivity!
I mean, think about what that meant to the 50-year-old who now realizes they are going to die while living in a foreign country.
Or the teenager who now realizes that most of their life, if not all of it, is going to be spent under the reign of their enemy.
The Jewish people had been torn away from their homeland. And were stuck in a place they didn’t want to be . . . watching the death of all their dreams.
They were facing the harsh reality that while God promised he would redeem them someday . . . for many years they were going to have to wait.
What Does Waiting on God Mean?
So, what does waiting on God mean?
Waiting on God means having confident trust in him until he acts on your behalf.
We do this by holding onto hope until we receive what he has promised. When we keep believing that he is working in our situation, even though we can’t see what he is doing.
The definition of trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, agility, or strength of someone or something.
But trusting God can be hard to do when He allows us to be stuck in a place we don’t want to be.
So, let’s take a look at what the Bible says about waiting on God.
What does the Bible say about waiting on God?
The Bible talks a lot about waiting on God. And Isaiah 26:3-4 shows us how:
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”-Isaiah 26:3-4 ESV
When Isaiah says “whose mind is stayed on you” he is teaching us an important truth.
The battle for trusting God in the waiting doesn’t begin with our feelings. It doesn’t even begin with our actions.
It begins in our mind.
Whatever our minds are “staying on” is what we are trusting in.
Another great verse is Proverbs 3:5 which says:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”-Proverbs 3:5 NIV
The word for “lean” in this verse comes from the same root word for “stayed” in Isaiah 26:3.
Think of it this way: as we lean on the Lord and keep our minds focused on Him, we get to know Him more.
And the more we get to know God, the easier it becomes to trust Him.
Even when he makes us wait.
What do I do while waiting on God?
So, what are we supposed to do while waiting on God?
Well, when we are in a season of waiting it can be very helpful to do four things.
- 1) Wait with hope.
- 2) Live well now.
- 3) Cling to your King.
- 4) Feed your faith.
Read on to discover practical ways we can do these things in a season of waiting.
1) Wait with hope.
When we are in a season of waiting, we have a choice.
We can look at our circumstances and bemoan our fate. Or we can look at our Creator in hope as we wait.
Another familiar verse I love is Isaiah 40:31 in the ESV version it reads:
“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”-Isaiah 40:31 ESV
In this verse, the Hebrew word for wait is “qavah” which means “to wait, hope for, look, expect, and to gather”.
In our culture, the word “wait” is often considered a passive word. We wait in the drive-thru line. Or at the doctor’s office. Or for the water to boil as we are making dinner.
But here the Hebrew word for wait “qavah” is not a passive word.
It is an active word.
It means to wait actively with anticipation.
To hopefully wait for God to act.
It is not like the passive waiting of someone in a long line at Starbucks. It is like the active waiting of a pregnant mother.
As the mother waits over those 9 months she doesn’t just sit passively on the couch.
Instead, she reads books on parenting. She buys supplies. She sets up the nursery. She goes to all her prenatal appointments. She watches what she eats and takes her vitamins.
She is actively waiting in hopeful anticipation of what is to come . . . the birth of her child.
We can trust God’s timing as we learn to wait the “qavah” way which means to “wait with hope!”
God gives us hope in this life, but He also reminds us that He has promised us so much MORE.
God has a much bigger perspective than we do on everything that is going on in our life because He sees our past, present, and future simultaneously.
He knows how our life intersects and interacts with the lives of everyone else on the planet as well.
This is precisely why after informing the bewildered Jews that they would be in captivity for 70 years God could go on to say:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”-Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
He knew the plans He had for them in this life and the plans He had for them in the life to come.
And all his plans are good.
2) Live well now.
In Jeremiah 29 verses 4-7, we see that God wanted the Israelites to live well even in captivity.
“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says to all the captives he has exiled to Babylon from Jerusalem:
‘Build homes, and plan to stay. Plant gardens, and eat the food they produce. Marry and have children. Then find spouses for them so that you may have many grandchildren. Multiply! Do not dwindle away! And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare.’-Jeremiah 29:4-7 NLT
It would appear from this statement that the Jewish people were not slaves or prisoners but were free to go about their daily lives while living amongst the Babylonians.
And in these verses, God was reminding the Jewish people that even in their season of waiting God loved them and wanted good for them.
God was inviting them to not just survive their captivity but THRIVE in their captivity.
And in our seasons of waiting God is also inviting us to thrive.
We can do this by:
- Finding ways to serve and encourage those around us.
- Taking an honest evaluation of our own life and looking for ways we may need to heal and grow.
- Honoring God in the way we live our daily lives.
We can also live well now when we choose to keep our eyes on Jesus.
3) Cling to your King.
If you hold up a finger and look at it you will notice that everything around you (in your peripheral vision) becomes blurry.
But if you look away from your finger and around you then you will notice that everything around you becomes clear while your finger all of a sudden becomes blurry.
In the same way, when we focus on God while we are still aware of the painful circumstances surrounding us, they don’t take over our vision.
But when we take our eyes off God our circumstances come clearly into view while our view of God suddenly gets blurry.
This is exactly what happened to Peter in Matthew 14.
When Jesus told him to walk on water, Peter could. He was the only human being ever to accomplish such an amazing feat.
(I don’t know about the rest of you but I definitely think one of the things I am going to ask Jesus to let me do in Heaven is walk on water!)
And Peter did it by keeping his focus on his Savior. Only when Peter took his focus off Jesus and looked at the wind and waves did the waters start to pull him in.
Sometimes our seasons of waiting can feel like a storm, but . . . the only way the storm can cause us to sink is if we turn away from our King.
4) Feed your faith.
Another important thing to do when God asks you to wait is to feed your faith.
We absorb what we are around. So, if we are around negative things, it is easy to become negative, anxious, worried, and depressed.
But if we surround ourselves with positive things, it is easier to live with joy, peace, and hope . . . no matter what we are facing.
In a season of waiting, we need to make it a priority to:
1) Pray and be still so we can listen to God.
In these moments, God reassures us of His love. That He is with us. And He is taking care of us. Even in this.
2) Meditate and memorize Scripture.
The Holy Spirit can then bring these verses to mind to comfort us at the perfect time.
3) Praise the Lord in worship.
As we take our eyes off our circumstances and focus on God in worship, we remember that the God we serve is bigger than anything we face.
4) Go to church.
God loves to use His people to comfort and support us. They can help us carry our burdens by praying for us, serving us, and sending words of encouragement our way.
By doing all of these things we learn more about the God we serve. And as we get to know Him more, we learn to trust Him more.
When we FEED OUR FAITH, it becomes easier to trust God as we wait.
Why is waiting on God so important?
So, why is waiting on God so important?
Because when we don’t wait on him and try to take care of things on our own, we tend to just mess it all up.
God knows so much more than we do about what we are going through.
I know it’s hard.
I know you look around you and nothing makes sense. You feel lost, weary, and all alone.
Being in a season of waiting is tough!
But with Jesus, there is always HOPE.
While in God’s waiting room, we can choose to remember these three truths.
- God loves us.
- He is working all things out for our good.
- And someday He will right all the wrongs, make all things new, and take us to Heaven . . . where we will no longer have to wait!
Can I get an AMEN!
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