'And therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are they that wait for Him.' -- ISAIAH xxx.18.
God's waiting and man's -- bold and beautiful, that He and we should be represented as sharing the same attitude.
I. God's waiting,
1. The first thought is -- why should He wait -- why does He not act at once? Because something in us hinders. We cannot enter into spiritual blessings till we are made capable of them by faith. It would not be for our good to receive some temporal blessings till sorrow has done its work on us. The great thought here is that God has a right time for help. He is 'a God of judgment,' i.e.. discerns our moral condition and shapes His dealings thereby. He never gives the wrong medicine.
2. His waiting is full of work to fit us to receive His grace. It is not a mere passive standing by, till the fit conditions are seen in us; but He 'is exalted' while He waits, i.e.. lifted up in the manifestation of His might, and by His energy in preparing us for the gifts that He has prepared for us. 'He that hath wrought us for the self-same thing is God.' He who prepares a place for us is preparing us for the place. He who has grace which He is ready to give us here, is making us ready for His grace. The meaning of all God's work on us is to form a character fit to possess His highest gifts.
3. His waiting is very patient. The divine husbandman 'waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it.' How wonderful that in a very real sense He attends on our pleasure, as it were, and lets us determine His time to work.
4. That waiting is full of divine desire to help. It is not the waiting of indifference, which says: 'If you will have it -- well and good. If not, it does not matter to Me.' But 'more than they that watch for the morning,' God waits 'that He may be gracious unto you.'
II. Man's waiting.
Our attitude is to be in some real sense analogous to His.
Its main elements are firm anticipation, patient expectation, steadfast desire, self-discipline to fit us for the influx of God's grace.
We are not to prescribe 'times and seasons which the Father hath put in His own power.' The clock of Eternity ticks more slowly than our short- pendulumed timepieces. 'If the vision tarry, wait for it.' We may well wait for God when we know that He waits for us, and that, for the most part, when He sees that we are waiting, He knows that His time is come.
But it is to be noted that the waiting desire to which He responds is directed to something better and greater than any gifts from Him, even to Himself, for it is they who 'wait for Him,' not only for His benefits apart from Himself, however precious these may be, who are blessed.
The blessedness of such waiting, how it calms the heart, brings into constant touch with God, detaches from the fever and the fret which kill, opens our eyes to mark the meanings of our life's history, and makes the divine gifts infinitely more precious when they do come.
After all, the time of waiting is at the longest very short. And when the perfect fruition is come, and we enter into the great spaces of Eternity, it will seem as an handbreadth.
'Take it on trust a little while,
Thou soon shalt read the mystery right
In the full sunshine of His smile.'