There are two commands that God consistently gives His people throughout the scriptures: “wait” and “remember.” Both these actions go against our human nature. However, when we push past our flesh and make “wait” and “remember” our bywords for living, it is an act of worship to the Father and invokes the mountains in our lives to be moved.
Isaiah 64:4 says, “For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” Here scripture clearly states a condition by which God acts on our behalf – when we wait for Him.
Likewise, the Psalmist says, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day” (Psalm 25:5).
In our microwave oven, high-speed internet, fast food society, waiting has become something to be spurned, loathed, and fought. “You shouldn’t have to wait for–” is the slogan of many an advertiser.
I am still waiting to see the Lord’s salvation in several areas of my life for which I’ve been praying about for years. But what a different person I am from when I initially asked to see His hand move on my behalf. He has taught me how to pray, and how to bless those who curse me and wrongly use me. It has taken a long time, but I am taking on more and more the shape of something He can use: “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from [impurities], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:19).
Waiting doesn’t imply that we are sitting around doing nothing. On the contrary, waiting is active and expectant, hopeful in the goodness of the Lord.
Micah 7:7 says, “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”
So often, when I think of waiting, I think of Joseph in prison – thirteen years in a miserable cell for a crime he never committed. I think how discouraged he must have felt, how angry he must have been in the beginning. Thirteen years is a very long time to be in an uncomfortable, lonesome place. But God was carving out qualities in His servant that he’d need for greatness.
Human nature is quick to forget important things – politicians are reelected despite dozens of promises made on the campaign trail that are broken in office, for no other reason than the very short memories of the people. The flesh makes it easy to remember the wrong people have done to us, yet easy to forget all their kindness. As someone has pointed out, “Gratitude is a short-lived emotion.” Remembering is a conscious act that we need to do in the face of troubling circumstances.
Not long ago, I found myself bothered by something insensitive a sister in the Lord had said to me. In my mind, I was several miles down a trail of negativity toward her, when I suddenly remembered how thoughtful she’d been to my daughters not long ago. The remembrance of her kindness brought a sudden check to my negativity, and made me realize that she hadn’t meant to be insulting to me. I needed to give her grace, just like so often I need grace to cover my words and actions which I may not even be aware have caused a disturbance to others.
God commands His people to remember former days over a hundred times in scripture. Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place. (Exodus 13:3)
Later, the Psalmist laments that neglecting to remember led to their destruction: “Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; they did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).
Similarly, Paul admonishes the church in Ephesus to “Remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
A couple years ago, I began keeping a prayer journal to record my requests and those of others. Whenever answers came, I wrote them down in red ink. Now, I can look back on pages and pages of radically answered prayers, deliverance, provision, healings, salvations, gifts, and intervention on the part of God in my life. This is a practical way to “remember” God’s goodness – but if I don’t actively pick up the journals and reread them, it is easy to forget how mightily and how much He has done.