Pain Turning to Hope

Waiting . Isn’t it HOARDS of fun? Yes, that is a rhetorical – sarcastic question. Nothing, floats my boat, rolls my socks, more than … waiting. I am kidding of course, whether it be in a check out stand, gas line, or in a season of life, I am not a good wait-er.

Recently studying in Genesis, I was again reminded of just how ‘human’ the characters are. This is my take on … Noah. Quickly setting the scene: God is grieved over mans ‘ickiness’, (yes that now is a word), He’s starting over. He instructs Noah to build the first Titanic, however, this one IS unsinkable. Noah obeys beyond the critical looks, and behind his back snickers. He builds the ark and gathers the animals. Loading up, God shuts the door and it begins to get quite wet out.

Forty days it rains. Let’s look at this picture a little closer. Get your rain coat on, and step up to a window and look inside the Ark with me… animals EVERYWHERE! Where there are animals there is … um … poo. Here is where I would like to be a fly. No, too ugly – a butterfly on the cypress wood, and observe Mrs. Noah. What a TROOPER, knee deep in poo and yet there is no documented complaint from her. Go Mrs. N !

Ok, get serious. Genesis 8, the rain stops. Noah sends out the raven, then the dove, the dove returns because there is no place to land yet. Verse 10 “He WAITED seven more days ...” (emphasis mine)  Noah waited. In the Hebrew this waiting is a painful waiting, as to wring the hands, not a mere sitting on a crate playing cards passing the time. It refers to either pain in the physical sense or in the emotional, of suffering and sorrow. Noah and his family in the ark, God preserves them, now he (they) wait.

Had God forgotten him? Will he forever spend the rest of his life in a stinky ship full of animals? How many rounds of  ‘Row row row your boat’ do they HAVE to sing, those silly sons!  No, we really don’t know what he was thinking, but his waiting was anguishing.
David penned “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him …” ~ Psalms 37:7.   The same Hebrew word for ‘wait’ is used here. He too knew … ‘wait’. Anointed to be king as a young boy, deadly pursuit by King Saul … wait.

BUT, the story, the waiting does NOT stop there. Noah sent out the dove AGAIN, that evening the dove returned with an olive branch, “Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but THIS TIME it did not return to him.” (Gen. 8:11-12)

Noah waited. We read that and think … ‘the guy is getting good at waiting.’  YET, his waiting has changed. First he ‘hil’ (Hebrew) ‘painful waiting’, now after the olive branch, he sends the dove out with hope, ‘yahal’ (Hebrew) a confident expectation in his wait. His pain has turned to hope. The results of his hope … “but this time it did not return to him”   The dove had landed happily in an olive tree somewhere. I LOVE the ‘this time’ of waiting.

Hope, it will carry us a long way, as long as it doesn’t carry us in the wrong direction. “Hope is NOT a pacifying wish of the imagination which drowns out troubles, nor is it uncertain, but rather ‘yahal’ hope is the solid ground of expectation for the righteous.” *

Again, David shares, “Be strong and take heart all you who hope (yahal) in the LORD…” (Ps. 31:24) Job, the poster child for troubles and waiting … he testifies boldly “Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15)

Can not stop there … “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

Folks, whether we are in a season of painfully waiting, or our waiting is full of hope, there is something here for us. It says “But God remembered Noah …” (Gen. 8:1) God put Noah in the Ark, to preserve him, He had a plan for Noah, oh it wasn’t pleasant at times and down right stinky, but God knew … vs. 16 “God said to Noah, Come out …”  Or perhaps our scenario  is more like David’s, has to wait to see a promise fulfilled.  Fulfilled.  Or Job … loss, troubles, poor health.  Restored.

For some, our stay in the Ark may be longer, don’t jump ship yet … there may be some poo to trudge through, but keep sending those doves, and take heart, God is just allowing us a dry place (hm, could this be a desert?)   He is preparing our coming out. Look for those olive branches, they are there.  Our ‘this time’ is coming!

What are YOU waiting for? 
Pain turning to hope … ‘hope does not disappoint … because God’ 

In Him, DeDe (Ps. 92:4 “You thrill me, LORD!)

* Quote from the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (LOVE those geeky books!)

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