The year after my third miscarriage and during my seventh pregnancy, the Psalms were a refuge for me. I struggled to reconcile my fervent prayers and multiple miscarriages with the evidence of God’s miraculous sustaining hand present in the lives of many around me. That year multiple families I knew experienced favorable outcomes where loved ones lived, who medically should not have, while I saw another death. Another season of empty hands asking, “Why Lord?”
As I’ve been digging into Psalm 119, I am reminded of that season and how I saw over and over again “wait and hope.” Wait and hope, wait for Lord and do not let your heart be discouraged (Ps. 27:14; 32:24; 33:18-22; 37:34; 40:1). In the margin of one Psalm I wrote, “Wait and hope are benchmarks of the life of faith.”
Wait and hope are a strong theme of the Psalms and looking at David’s life, we can see why. He was a man who faced many adversities at the hands of his enemies, as well as a byproduct of his own sin. But what holds the Psalms, and those who find comfort there, is the word of the Lord.
The theme of Psalm 119 is the centrality of God’s Word in the life a disciple and the obedience of the disciple to walk in the ways of God’s Word. This really struck me reading Psalm 119:81-88. The psalmist here is weary waiting for God to act,
“My eyes grow weary looking for what you have promised; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”Psalm 119:82
And yet, as he longs for God to intervene and save him from his persecutors he still puts his hope in God’s Word (v. 81) and obeys God’s Word (v.83, 85-88). Then again he asks,
“How many days must your servant wait? When will you execute judgment on my persecutors?”Psalm 119:84
When we ask, “How long, O Lord?” (and it’s good to ask), when we recognize we are in a season of waiting on the Lord, whether we are waiting for growth in our own lives (ie, self-control, patience, speaking truth), in specific situations, or waiting for God to intervene and act–do we wait in a posture of obedience?
Do we wait with frustration? Lord, you’re taking too long!Do we wait with pride? Lord, I know how to make this happen–and then act apart from him, sometimes in outright defiance. Do we seek justice our way with our sense of timing and what we deem appropriate judgment? No one else is addressing this, it’s up to me to make this right.
Are we willing to be dried out, bone weary before the Lord and still be obedient? Even then, will we hope and continue to walk in all His ways?
I think too often we seek our own means of sustenance. We’re physically and mentally exhausted, so we seek our own way rather than waiting on the Lord and entrusting ourselves to what He has decreed to be righteous living. We become bitter, cynical, or sometimes overly confident in our own abilities.
We have not yet learned to endure in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Ps. 63:1).
And we struggle to wait…
For to wait on another Being to act is an act of faith.
To be still and at peace in the face of adversity.
To be obedient when others are arrogant and lawless–or a law unto themselves.
To be hopeful in the face of an uncertain future.
To be dependent on One who is not held to our timetable or wishes.
But, the servant of the Lord knows “The Lord is my portion” (Ps. 119:57; 73:26) and that all that is true of God’s character He will be true to us.
The Lord is my allotment and if the Lord is my portion is there any need I have that will not be met? Any season or circumstance that I will not be cared for? No, the Lord is my portion.
There’s an understanding that since God is our portion, and in being our portion all that is true of His character He will be true to us, then it is good and safe and right for us to obey all He has said in His Word in every season and circumstance.
Though we long and ask, “How long, Lord? When, Lord?,” we can be certain and obedient in the weary, dry, and trying seasons.
Why? Because the Lord is good, faithful and true, not slow in keeping His promises (2 Pe. 3:9; 1 Th. 5:24). When God acts, when he does answer our prayers and petitions it will be good and right and just, because He is good and right and just. We hope not for certainty of our future. We hope and trust in the Lord for who He is.
Looking back on that dark season, I know I was kept by the Lord and his Word. I may have been only able to utter the words, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:66-69) and apply myself to those two faithful words: wait and hope.
May we be as faithful as the psalmist. Even though his persecutors almost killed him and he was nearly at death’s door (v. 87), the psalmist didn’t abandon the ways and will of God. In his waiting, the psalmist requests God to give him life according to His faithful love. He requests remembering the character of God, that God is his portion.
And why does the psalmist request the preservation of his life? So that his trials may end? So that he may feel closer to the Lord? So that he may see the judgment of his enemies?
No, he asks God to sustain him so that he may “obey the decree you [the Lord] has spoken” (v.88).
May we seek to love the Lord with our whole being that even when we are shriveled dry, we wait for Him to act we still desire and walk in His ways through all our seasons.