A lot of people use the phrase "wait on the Lord," but what does it actually mean, according to Isaiah? God’s people, Israel, historically rebelled against the LORD many times. There were periods of restoration as the nation repented, but they would fall again into sin and rebellion. We can observe in Scripture that there are consequences for disobedience but great rewards for obedience. It was true for Israel, and it is still true for us today. The text can be understood as a chiasm in verses 27-30. This works to emphasize the central idea at the end of verse 28 with the point that follows in verse 31. “[God’s] understanding is inscrutable.” In other words, we cannot figure out Him or His ways of thinking. As our Creator, then, we cannot figure out our purpose on our own. That is why the chapter concludes, “Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength. …” This truth gives us fuel in our tank to live our lives in a way which pleases our Creator. The question is, “are you a self-centered person?” In light of God’s greatness, our proper response is to wait--to surrender—to Him.
We Stumble in Our Selfishness
Looking at the chiastic pattern, we can see it verses 27a and 30b an attitude which results in a just consequence. To think we can actually live independent of God is foolish. In His mercy, He allows us to stumble. An example of my stumbling in the attic can illustrate this.
God Sustains Those Who Wait
If we are truly due something good, God will give it. It just may not be one our timing. We can see this in verses 27b and 30a. We do “grow weary and tired” in this life, but as we claim the LORD as “my God,” He will prove Himself. The gracious elderly man helping his neighbor boys shovel his own driveway can illustrate this.
God Supernaturally Changes Those Who Wait
God is spirit. We are fleshly human beings. To attain to the spiritual stature which He expects—that of Christ—we cannot rely on our own resources. Only the LORD, who is our everlasting, all-powerful Creator, can give us the power to change (vs. 28a). We just have to recognize we are powerless (v. 29b). Think of Newton’s 3rd Law of Thermodynamics. We need someone outside ourselves to transform us. That is a universal law.
God Strengthens Those Who Wait
God does not grow weary (v. 28b); therefore, He is the only one capable to “give strength to the weary” (v. 29a). We must simply recognize our dependence on Him for this renewal. This is an invitation to work alongside Him. Matthew 11:28-30 speaks to this, in the words of Jesus.
We Surrender in Awe of Him
To “wait” is to surrender. We surrender when we realize the cause we are fighting for is hopeless. Again, the “cause” we all fight for naturally is our selfish way of living. This wars against God and our very own spirits. When we see that “His understanding is inscrutable” and love Him for it, we will gladly surrender. Jesus speaks of those who understand God as “infants” (Matthew 11:25-27).
To wait on the Lord is to surrender our wisdom, intelligence, delusions of strength, and our goals in life. The promise is renewal—a new life sustained by the LORD. That is what verse 31 speaks to. We must simply let go of our selfish ways. Where/how are you selfish?
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!