Waiting on God

Dear Reader,

We were singing Psalm 39 in family worship and I was thinking about waiting on God. The psalm says:

“And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” (Ps. 39:7)

Waiting is hard isn’t it? To quote Tom Petty, the waiting is the hardest part. And yet there is a lot of waiting on God in the Bible, especially the psalms. What does it mean to wait on God and why do we do it?

In Psalm 39, the psalmist is in distress. The nature of his affliction is not clear. He speaks of the transitory nature of human life so perhaps it is a physical ailment. He also asks to be delivered from the scorn of fools so perhaps it is some sort of abuse he suffers ar others hands. What is clear is that the psalmist knows that his affliction is from God: “Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand” (v.10), and that it is a result of his own sins: “When you discipline a man  with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him;  surely all mankind is a mere breath!” (v.11). Now not all suffering is the direct result of our specific sins. But all suffering is from the hand of God. At the very least it is allowed by Him.

And yet despite his pain and the fact that he knows it is from God, it is still to God that he cries out. He is like a child turning for comfort to the parent who spanked him. And there is no other source of comfort for us. As it says in the Heidelberg Catechism:

“What is thy only comfort in life and death? That I with body and soul, both in life and death,  am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ . . .”

But for the psalmist, relief has not come yet. And so he waits. The psalmist is waiting for deliverance from some specific trial. But all of us must wait on the Lord to some degree. We live in the land of “now but not yet” where God’s promises to us are still only partially fulfilled.

So why do we have to wait? Why the delay? I think it is a test and a trial of our faith. If I say I will give you a present ans then hand it to you right away, you do not need to trust me or not. But if I promise you something and then do not deliver immediately, you must trust that you will receive.  “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is a muscle that must be exercised to grow.
And so we wait. We wait for the completion of the work which has been begun in us. Fortunately God know our weaknesses, and He gives us little signs and tastes of Hid goodness so we do not too quickly forget that He is faithful and can and will fulfill all His promises.



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