All of us are waiting for something. On this side of heaven there will persist a nagging sense of lack. Whether we’re longing for a husband, a baby, a sense of purpose, a pain-free body or cure, prosperity, or simply change. . .an ache can well up in our soul.
And yet God’s Word says: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1
Days after my 2 year old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia I remember coming across these verses: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:25-26
I realized that’s what I was doing – waiting. But there was more to it. I needed to wait upon God, to wait for Him to act. In her case it wasn’t going to happen overnight.
I remember telling myself, I need to trust God when He says it is “good” to wait. But that’s easier said than done. If you would have asked me then if I believed that, my heart would have struggled to answer yes. But as the months of treatment went on, I petitioned God for help every difficult day and discovered an awareness of Him I never experienced before.
I discovered that God is good to those who wait for Him, because our constant lack drove us to His presence to be filled. It forced us to discover that nothing else could soothe our suffering except meditating on and rejoicing in the redemptive work of Jesus.
In that space of waiting, He taught me all we needed was Him. He provided the grace we needed for each moment.
Psalms For the Waiting Heart
For anyone in a place of trouble, the Psalms are one beautiful place to go. There we find fellow humans who are, well, human. As war and strife and sorrow and sin surround them, the psalmists turn to God to hear their hearts and be their hope.
There we see that the ultimate weapon against the bitterness and impatience that rise in our waiting is shouting praise to God. It’s shouting out truth about who He is, so that it resounds in our soul and brings meaning to the pain.
Below I’ve picked three psalms that directly speak of waiting on God. I’ve included a snippet for you to meditate on, but don’t hesitate to read them in full.
“If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.“
God is Merciful In Our Waiting
Sometimes what the Word most needs to do for us is humble our hearts. It reminds us that without Christ, we are sinners who quickly abandon God and are entitled to nothing. He owes us nothing. And yet, though we walk as enemies to the Holy God in our disobedience, He reaches out in forgiveness. He graces us with what we need most, what we most lack – salvation from sin. That can give us joy always.
Each day we fail to love as He loves, to walk with integrity as Jesus did, to choose light over darkness. Though we wouldn’t be worthy to stand at His throne, He covers us daily with the white robes of Christ so we can. How can we not trust such a merciful God? He is worth waiting on.
“The Lord looks down from heaven;
he sees all the children of man;
14 from where he sits enthroned he looks out
on all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 he who fashions the hearts of them all
and observes all their deeds.
16 The king is not saved by his great army;
a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.
17 The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue. . .
Our soul waits for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 For our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
22 Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.”
God is Sovereign in Our Waiting
Nothing is impossible with God. God knows all things. God sees everything upon the earth. The wisest of men are fools compared to Him and His matchless wisdom. These facts – that God is the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, wise King – can settle our heart with peace.
It’s not that He can’t do what we’re waiting for, it’s that He knows the perfect time and way to do it.
He who fashioned our hearts is also fashioning our lives for His glory, and it is good. With every second passing in our waiting, God is doing 10,000 acts of mercy we cannot see. So in our wait, there is no one else to whom we should look. As the psalmist describes in the language of war, salvation does not come from anything on earth. It only comes from the Lord.
His help will come. His will for your life will come to pass. Our hope then is in the Name of the God who does not fail, does not falter, does not fade, does not lose. As we hope, He sends His steadfast love so we can endure the wait.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.”
God is Just in Our Waiting
One of the hardest type of waits is waiting for justice. When someone sins against us, or some grievous evil comes upon our community, at best we’re irritated and at worst we’re ravenous for revenge. But believing that God is a God of Justice both calms us and convicts us.
Here the psalmist tells us not to waste away our days fretting over the wrongs of the world, or any wrongs made to us. We should not allow anger to make us return evil for evil.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Instead, we need to “be still” and “wait patiently” for God’s ruling. If we are bothered by wickedness, then our Righteous, Holy God is as well to the infinite degree beyond what we can feel. So again, we must quiet ourselves before Him and trust. Whether tomorrow or on Judgment Day God will enact vengeance against sin.
He also enacts grace, and can transform the hardest of hearts with the gospel. Whether we’re waiting upon a prodigal child or for a war to end, whether we’re wondering why the criminal got away or if our unfaithful husband will repent. . .God is doing work to bring about redemption. He’s working in our wait.
Let’s trust Him!