But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.—Isaiah 40:31
Waiting on the Lord to answer a prayer request can be like watching a pot that seemingly never comes to a boil. Everything in your meal hinges on the water boiling, yet you continue to wait. And wait. And wait. You start to question: Is the temperature too low? Did you use too much water? Is your stove working right? Will the rest of your meal go to pot (pardon the pun) while you wait?
So it is with prayer. Your life would be so wonderful only if this one issue would be resolved, yet you wait. And wait. And wait. You start to question: Is your heart right before God? Did you pray according to His will? Did you make your case ineffectively? Will your life go to pot while you wait?
The emotional toll of waiting is weariness. Sometimes that toll is very physical. It manifests itself through insomnia, depression or even illness. It can consume your thoughts and steal your joy as it becomes the filter through which everything else is viewed.
We find ourselves questioning everything we hold true.
. . . the Lord shall renew their strength . . .
How can your strength be renewed when your heart is so heavily weighted?
They shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
How can you soar above your circumstances when you see no evidence of change? How can you move forward energetically and purposefully when your energy is drained and your purpose eludes you?
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.—Hebrews 11:1
Faith—acting on what we choose to believe is true regardless of what we see—becomes our spiritual sustenance. We recall the things the Lord has already done—those things that seemed impossible, those things only He could do. We look at the lives of fellow saints, those we know and those whose lives are memorialized in history and Scripture. And we trust. And we wait.
Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”—John 20:29
Hebrews 11, the chapter we call “The Hall of Faith,” features a host of people no doubt more righteous than most of us—definitely more righteous than I—who held on to their faith despite oppression, violence, destitution, persecution and even martyrdom. Were their prayers answered? Yes, eventually, but not in the way they had hoped, and not in their lifetimes.
Still the blessing came. They persevered, making their lives testimonies to our good and gracious God, who does all things well. Because of their faith and their sacrifices, the faith of others was strengthened, and God’s purposes were accomplished. Their own faith was strengthened as God’s purposes were accomplished in their own lives, even though they waited upon the Lord to the very end.
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.—Hebrews 11:13
Because of their faith and His great grace, the Lord renewed their strength. They mounted up with wings like eagles above the pit into which the world tried to drag them. They ran toward the goal that was theirs in Christ Jesus without growing weary. They walked forward victoriously without growing faint.
They recalled their purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I’m convinced if we had the slightest inkling of what that truly looks like, we would live transformed lives. But our finite minds are too small to consider it, and our hearts are too fragile to embrace it.
You may yet receive the answer you seek. Remember that we cannot conceive of the battles that take place on our behalf in the heavens. This calls for perseverance. The answer you get may not be the one you want, but it will be the one that’s best. Or you may not receive any answer at all. Regardless, determine in your heart to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, even if your watched pot never boils, because I promise you—actually, God promises you—He’s cooking up something, and it’s going to be worth waiting for, even if you don’t taste it in this earthly realm.