Waiting Without Disgrace
Who among us likes to feel embarrassed? The occasional “bat in the cave” or being caught with something in your teeth are only temporary embarrassments, which we hope our friends will point out in a timely manner. But those types of embarrassment don’t cause other people to lose respect for us since they happen to everyone. What about the guy who took his entire life savings and used it to buy lottery tickets, hoping and waiting to get rich, and in the end, won only $13? That’s more than embarrassment; that’s disgraceful. To be “disgraced” means to be embarrassed with the result that other people lose respect for us. We like other people’s respect, and so we avoid telling others what we are waiting or hoping for. Why? Because of the concern of what others will think if what we’re waiting on doesn’t come. We fear being disgraced.
In the book of Numbers, after the Israelites had been led out of Egypt and were on the verge of going into the Promised Land, twelve spies had gone into the land to see what type of land it was. The report they had brought back revealed that the land was a fruitful and very good land. But there was a problem: the cities had tall walls and tall people. Ten of the spies said that the size and strength of the people in the land were too much to overcome. But Caleb tried to silence the doubts and to encourage the people to go in and take the land. His effort was in vain. For forty years, the Israelites wandered through the desert while that generation of doubtful-warriors died off, because God was not going to let those warriors enter the Promised Land. The two spies, the two faith-filled-warriors who believed God would help them take the land—Caleb and Joshua—waited those forty years plus a few extra. And so, we fast forward in the story to the book of Joshua, forty-five years after the day that Caleb had tried to encourage the people to be courageous, and we read these words from Caleb to Joshua:
Caleb said, “I was 40 years old when Moses the Lord’s servant sent me from Kadesh-barnea to scout the land, and I brought back an honest report…. On that day, Moses swore to me (that the land I had scouted would be my inheritance, because I had followed the Lord completely.) As you see, the Lord has kept me alive these forty-five years as he promised…. Here I am today, eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was on the day Moses sent me out (to spy on the land). My strength for battle and for daily tasks is now as it was then. Now give me this hill country the Lord promised me…” Then Joshua blessed Caleb and gave him Hebron. (Josh 14:7-13, CSB)
Caleb had waited on the Lord, and he was not disgraced. He didn’t die before seeing God’s fulfillment of the promise. He didn’t get so frail and lose strength that he couldn’t take the land. He hadn’t lost his mind and forgot what God had promised him. Caleb waited forty-five years for God’s promise to be fulfilled. All the Israelite people knew that Caleb was waiting and what he was waiting for. Caleb was not disgraced, and God was honored as the One who does not allow disgrace to come to those who wait on Him.
Waiting on God to reveal His direction for you, waiting on Christ to return, waiting on a loved one to repent and turn to Christ, waiting for a pregnancy that hasn’t come about, waiting, waiting, waiting. We are all waiting for God on something. Some of those things we will see come about, and others we will not. A lifetime of waiting and hoping in God for something we don’t get to see come about is not wasted. There is no guarantee we will see the fulfillment of the promise, like Caleb saw the fulfillment. What we are guaranteed is that those who wait on God will not ultimately be disgraced.
So, what is your reason, now, for not sharing with others what you are waiting on God to do? Share with one another, hope together, pray as one, and wait on God.
You won’t be disgraced.