A Formula for Waiting
It comes as no surprise to even the most casual reader of God’s word that there are times and seasons on the life of a believer that are characterized by “waiting” and the need for patience. There are those moments (hours, days, weeks, months, years, you get the picture) when we are certain God is at work to accomplish something in our lives but we’re not yet invited to the party. I’m in one of those seasons, it seems. I am looking for something to happen, and it isn’t . . . at least not visibly or speedily. So, I’m waiting.
The thing about waiting is not that it is all that hard. I just want to be good at it. I don’t want to waste my wait. So, I’m waiting and I’m asking the question, is there a formula for meaningful waiting? I think there is.
David wrote what we call Psalm 40 and clearly, waiting is on his mind. Here are the first five verses:
Psalm 40:1-5 (ESV)
1 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 4 Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 5 You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
I see for components of meaningful waiting in these words. First, in verse two, I find that David recalls and reflects on God’s past faithfulness. David waited in the past and in that past where David waited, God worked! God delivered and saved and established and secured all while David waited.
This is what God does. He accomplishes His will. He completes His intentions. He keeps His promises. He moves the world toward the ultimate fulfillment of His plan. No plan of His can be thwarted, either by demon or time. David brings to mind God’s faithfulness in the past and sets it as the foundation of his patience in the present.
Second, in verse three, David finds a new song of praise that raises truth and sets it against discouragement and despair. God’s attributes do not change relative to our situation. God doesn’t suddenly become absent-minded, distant, unconcerned, indifferent just because we suddenly become anxious, triggered, plaintive, or desperate. God is Who He is (!!!) no matter what conditions describe our experience. He said he would never leave us, and He doesn’t. He said He would lead us, and He does. He said He would care for us, and He does. He said He would act for His glory and our joy, and He does. God deserves praise and glory regardless of the details of our personal experience in the moment.
Third, in verse four, the key here is to stay. Blessing comes to to the man or woman who stays, stands his or her ground in faith and confidence in God’s faithfulness. They do not turn for quick relief to those who pursue lies (specifically worldly people or strategies that propose to have solutions better than God and His will [and that do no require waiting when God directs us to wait.])
Finally, in verse five, David bids us reinforce patience with proclamation. Speak the truth about God rather than detailing the minutiae of our situation. There is simply more to say about God than there is about us and our difficulty. This is not to minimize our discomfort but to maximize God’s glory in our eyes. Pain we have. Glory we need.