How Do We Wait On the Lord?
By Fr. Daniel Pinell
“But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 ESV.
In this season of Advent, we are called to wait. Like many of you, I dislike waiting. Speed is the virtue of the hour. Internet providers promote speed as its most valued characteristics. Meals can be had in seconds in a microwave. Headaches vanish in minutes by rapid-release painkiller pills. Our culture has conditioned us to expect speed and has proclaimed slowness and waiting the ultimate enemies.
When the Scriptures, however, hail the virtues of waiting and patience, we may acknowledge these proclamations as quaint necessitates of the past, one devoid of the technological advancements that forced its bored inhabitants to a slower pace of life. It seems they had no other choice but to wait and be patient, we may conclude. We may relegate these proclamations as poetic necessities to cope with a cruel past, a brave attempt of our ancestors to make lemonade with the lemons they were given.
Our culture demands speed and efficiency. Patience and waiting are given lip service every now and then, but we still crown the ones who force the future into the present with their relentless pursue of innovation.
And yet, the season of Advent still nag us and calls us to wait. Jesus is still taking His sweet little time and refuses to return. And so we wait, at times desperate at how bleak our situation has become. The calls for waiting and patience can sound hollow to a world that demands action. It sounds like a call to inaction and complacency. A call to resign oneself to the intolerable status-quo.
But is that what the Bible has in mind when it calls us to wait? Is that what the Church is calling us to in this season of Advent?
The passage quoted above can give us some insights to how one should pursue this call to wait.
First, we wait “for the Lord.” Our waiting is not in vain. Is not complacency. We are not waiting for the sake of waiting, as if sitting still would by itself solve the world’s problem. We are called to wait for the Lord. When we wait for someone, who that someone is determines the nature of our waiting. Waiting for someone with a unreliable character might leave us hopeless and restless. Waiting for someone with integrity leaves us hopeful and calm. For those of us who wait for the Lord, those of us who know His character, we do so expectantly, full of hope and joy. There is nothing idle about this waiting.
The passage makes this clear. Those who wait for the Lord “shall renew their strength. They should mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
You see, only those who wait for the Lord shall have their strengths renewed. Renewed for what? To rest more? No! So that we can continue running and not grow weary, walking and not faint. This is hardly a call for inaction! This is no call to remain content with he status quo! If anything is a reminder that only God can renew our strengths for battle. A reminder that the victory is already won, guaranteed, and so we can run, walk confidently, and not grow weary, discouraged or joyless.
We wait for the Lord because we trust His character. And trusting in His character we can rest and renew our strengths to continue running to the prize that’s ahead of us. A promise already won for us. This is the waiting the Church calls us to in the season of Advent.