Yesterday, the final games of the 2011–2012 Barclay’s Premier League season were played. At one end of the table, teams were fighting to stay out of relegation (where the bottom three teams get demoted to the next division down), while at the other end, teams were fighting for the privilege of playing in the UEFA Champions League (and for the millions of dollars). For those here in the States who don’t follow international football (soccer), this may seem like a lot of strange information, but there was one thing that occurred on the final day of the season for the top level of English football that most of us will relate to—the joy of a long wait rewarded. Manchester City, considered the “noisy neighbors” by the more well-known and much-more-popular Manchester United, won the league title for the first time in 44 years—44 years! That's a title drought that Cubs fans can certainly appreciate. For the first time since 1968, the blue side of Manchester lifts the great trophy as winners—and the long wait of Manchester City fans has been rewarded at last. Most of us understand the pain and struggle of waiting—waiting through hard times, waiting through painful times, waiting through lonely times, waiting through uncertain times. Waiting is a part of life, and long waits are not necessarily the exception. Sometimes they're the rule. However, there is a difference between waiting and waiting while we're learning the lessons of waiting on the Lord. In a very familiar verse, Isaiah wrote:

Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).

Waiting without hope can drain the life from us, but waiting as a way of resting in the Lord is another matter altogether. Isaiah says that waiting on the Lord provides strength for our weakness, energy for our emptiness, and confidence for our despair, because God is so much greater than any circumstance we might face. In the long season of waiting that life often brings our way, we could easily lose heart and hope, but not if in the waiting we learn to wait upon the Lord. In Him, we find more than just long waits—we find strength.   Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain