God has been teaching me a long and arduous lesson about waiting for him. For a person with a type A personality like me who likes to “make things happen”, waiting for God to change things outside my control can feel like a drawn-out and painful process. I’ve been holding on to two Bible verses that talk about waiting for God. Please allow me to share my thoughts on these.
Psalm 37:7 – 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!
The context of this verse is a very encouraging Psalm promising that, if we delight in God, he will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). However, the way we receive the promised blessings (according to my observations from the rest of the Psalm) seems to be by waiting. God instructs us to simply “trust in him, and he will act,” (v. 5) and again to “wait for the Lord and keep his way,” (v. 34). Verses 10 and 11 seem to indicate that we should patiently ride out the temporal success of the wicked and eventually emerge as winners by default. “In just a little while, the wicked will be no more…but the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” This theme of waiting for God to bring us to victory in the long game seems to permeate the Psalm. Psalm 37:9 says, “Those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.” The idea of inheriting blessing sounds wonderful until you think about the fact that one waiting for an inheritance must wait for the passing of another before being awarded as the beneficiary. It is difficult to wait an indeterminant amount of time for this to happen and not attempt to take short-cuts which are outside the bounds of God’s will.
Isaiah 64:4 – From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him.
The emphasis of this verse continues a theme which was also prevalent throughout Psalm 37 – God works while we wait (Psalm 37:4 – “he will give”, 37:5 – “he will act”, 37:6 – “he will bring”). This verse highlights the uniqueness of our God who does not require us to push forward on our own, but who instead asks us to wait while he acts on our behalf. This seems very counterintuitive, especially in a culture of rugged individualism and self-reliance. The beginning of this verse acknowledges the peculiar nature of this agreement by stating that no one has heard of such a strange working relationship, namely a God who asks his people to wait for him to work. (John Piper has a great sermon based on this verse in which he compares our God with the gods of the Babylonians as described in Isaiah 46.) So, what do we do while we wait for God to work? The answer lies in the next verse: “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways,” (Isaiah 64:5). The seemingly contradictory command to “work” right after an instruction to wait initially took me off guard but the New Living Translation, which says to “gladly do good, [and] follow godly ways”, sheds some light on how this work is different than the type of work God is doing on our behalf. We are to simply do what we know to be right, and leave God with both the consequences of our obedience and with the problems which we can’t solve.
Waiting for God is hard for me and I feel like I’ve been learning this lesson for a long time. It seems God gave me situations I couldn’t do anything about so I would have to learn to wait. Do you guys feel like you’re in a season of waiting? Is it as difficult for you as it is for me?