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The Strengthless Waiting

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The Strengthless Waiting

8 minuten leestijd

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength”— (Isaiah 40:31a)

In Isaiah 40 the prophet saw before him Judah which was bowed down under the captivity in Babylon. God’s children who were in captivity had become fainthearted by their prolonged affliction. The Lord had promised that He would deliver them out of captivity. Ten years had passed already and still they were not delivered. Their discouragement, powerlessness, and unbelief the prophet expressed in verse 27, “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?” They lamented: “The Lord does not take notice anymore of our difficult way of life. He does not hear our prayer. He hides His face.”

Did the Lord cast away this discouraged Zion because of the spiritless condition and frame of soul which she was in? These people of Zion, with all of God’s children, are worthy of being cast away. But He does not forsake the work of His hands. In verse 29 He came to this weary Zion with an encouragement of love, “He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.” At the same time the Lord warned that people, who had no single want or need for deliverance. Many showed themselves like strong young men who sparkled with energy and needed no help. They did not grieve over the fact that the temple in Jerusalem was lying in ruins. They said: “We will help ourselves in this captivity.

Just so we adjust ourselves to the requirements of the Babylonian way of living, then we can live comfortably here. Why should we really mourn about Jerusalem?” They could easily endure in Babel. They trusted in their own strength. They did not need the Lord. They knew not a longing for the promised land.

Is this also our picture? Do we show ourselves to be spiritually strong men who can help ourselves? Oh, let us be warned then, in the Name of God! All who remain in such a condition shall perish. (see verse 30b, “And the young men shall utterly fall.”) Oh, ask the Lord for true conversion. Without this renewing of life, you will, with all your self-expectations, plunge into an eternal night.

The Lord still calls to you, “Seek ye Me, and ye shall live” (Amos 5:4b).

But the words of our text show the great contrast of all who are building in their own strength, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” They shall not fall, because they hope upon the Lord. This waiting or hoping presupposes something — it presupposes despairing of our own strength and wisdom.

It has pleased the Lord to use those pressing circumstances of their long captivity by His Spirit to cause His children, by His Spirit, to feel their total weakness. He still uses many kinds of circumstances, oppressions, and trials to teach His children their absolute helplessness. Do you have a knowledge of this? If, in your hopelessness and weakness, the Spirit of Christ works for the first time or by renewal a sighing in your heart to the Lord for a token of His favor, then that God-dishonoring unbelief must go away. Then you will expect it all from the Lord.

This waiting is one of the biblical terms for saving faith. The original word says that there is a constant, strong desire of the soul to receive from the Lord the blessings which He promises in His Word.

Many are wrestling with the question, whether they really possess an upright faith. “Am I not deceiving myself for eternity?” If this is the question of your heart, examine yourself whether you have experienced this waiting. Do you know of these strong inward desires after the Lord, which accompanies this waiting? When we receive saving grace in regeneration, then it does not leave us idle or inactive; to the contrary, that faith gives exercises at the throne of grace. It brings us on our knees. We experience so clearly and painfully that we are missing God because of our sins. There is a strong longing in us for restoration of communion with God. We confess our unrighteousness before His face. We see the guilt of our life standing open before God. We confess that guilt. We acknowledge God’s righteousness. How unspeakably great it is when, in the midst of our soul misery, a glimmer of light shines out of the gospel of Christ as a way of escape! What a strong desire this gives to know Him as the Surety for our personal guilt! To be sure, this desire can slacken, shrivel, and even temporarily disappear because of our building on our own . strength through unbelief. This brings our soul in fetters and we fall into sin. But at His time the Holy Spirit brings that faith in exercise again. Then He breaks through our darkness, discouragement, and unbelief. In other words, this inward desire after the Lord, this hoping on God, returns again in the life of His people. And that all their life long — in every stage of the life of grace. When you once have learned to know this desire, then your soul rejoices when this longing comes in your soul by renewal. It is a longing after Christ and all His benefits.

“But they that wait upon the Lord”— this word contains two elements. It is a constant desire which is directed towards the fulfillment of God’s promises. How unspeakably great it is when the Lord, in the midst of our soul-misery, comes to us with the Word of His promise! It creates great surprise; it gives a prayerful waiting for the fulfillment of His promise. It pleases the Lord to lead His children here upon earth through His promise. They embrace His whole Word when they, by faith, may come unto the Lord. But, by the Spirit of Christ, some promises are applied in their life with special power and emphasis. The Lord engraves these words on the walls of their heart with indelible Scripture. These promises are not usually immediately fulfilled. Sometimes between the gift and the fulfillment of the promise there can be a long period of time. The Lord does this because He likes to see His people in the interim at His feet with humble, supplicating prayer. He works in them in such a way so that their faith may be exercised and cause them to plead upon His promises. In their inner chambers they time and again bring the Lord’s own Word before Him. They have nothing in themselves to plead upon before the Lord. The waiting of those who have no strength trusts only in the Word and strength of the Lord.

Experiential life knows of a strong longing after God, of a humble pleading upon God’s promises, of a believing expectation of its fulfillment. Psalm 119 is full of this. “Stablish Thy Word unto Thy servant, who is devoted to Thy fear” (v.38); “My soul fainteth for Thy salvation: but I hope in Thy Word” (v.81).

This hoping upon the Word of God must be experienced. Then it is as if you may rest with your hands upon a broad, immovable beam. What a firmness there is in this exercise of faith! Your feet are placed on the Rock Christ which knows of no wavering.

He who in his powerlessness, may look up to the Lord also experiences the truth of our text: “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” The margin reads: that “renewing” here also means exchange and/or change. This tells us that God’s children from time to time, by the work of the Holy Spirit (who lives in them) receive new strength out of Christ.

You who fear the Lord: be not apprehensive. In new temptations you will as one who has no strength, receive strength out of Him and you will be enabled to resist the prince of darkness with the Word of God. In new temptations you will receive new strength to cleave to Christ and be enabled to look away from the circumstances. During times of relapse in your life of faith, He shall give you new strength — to arise, looking upon His promise. When deep disappointments press you down, He shall give you new strength to look outside of yourself unto Him, and rejoice in Him. There is always new strength in Christ for those who have no strength. Oh, be not surprised that you must end in death time and again, with everything which is of yourself! There is no renewing of the strength of faith without losing your own strength. His Name is “the mighty God.” You must be brought to Christ. It is not a good sign when you can leave that blessed Surety alone, or when you can rest in what you have received in past experiences. He makes His people powerless in order to renew them repeatedly by His strength. Then He becomes everything for you.

Rev. M. Golverdingen is pastor of the Gereformeerde Gemeente (Netherlands Reformed Congregation) of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 februari 1989

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

The Strengthless Waiting

Bekijk de hele uitgave van woensdag 1 februari 1989

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken