Impatience. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Fear. All these things come to the forefront when we are faced with times of trouble or suffering. We so often feel sad, cast down and in no position to control what’s going on – we are helpless. At the time, we do not know specifically why the Lord has given us these difficult periods of life – Oh, the benefit of hindsight! – but we know that God is working through us and in us in these times. He is working for our good and His glory! And yet, during those times, we find it so hard. And that is why, again and again in the scriptures, we are told to ‘wait on the Lord’. Wait for Him? Does that mean you just sit around and twiddle your thumbs? Or think about other things? Among others, faithfully waiting for the Lord involves these three things:
In his letter of exhortation to early Christians, the writer of Hebrews encourages them to persevere. Even though they had suffered many things and sometimes been publicly shamed and afflicted (Heb 11:32-33), he calls for them to be patient and endure (v35-36). Those to whom he was writing knew that at the end of their lives, they had a better hope and an abiding one (v34). They were to be patient. They were to persevere. As Paul says, “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Rom 12:12). In a time of distress, David’s cry should be our own: “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Ps 37:7). Cry out to the Lord and ask Him to make you patient as you wait for Him (Rom 12:12)!
FIND YOUR COMFORT IN GOD
Whilst we are seeking to be patient, we need to make sure that we are looking not to ourselves, but God. When times of hardship come our way, often our natural, sinful response is to grumble. Sometimes we also react in other sinful ways – all manifesting our unfaithfulness to God and His promises. But does our faithlessness mean that God is unfaithful to us? The apostle Paul answered this with the words, “by no means!” (Rom 3:3-4). If we are faithless, He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13; Ps 40:1-2). No wonder there are so many exhortations encouraging us to trust in God – because we are so greatly faithless and He is so eminently faithful! The righteous shall live by faith (Hab 2:4b) – faith that trusts and hopes in God, knowing that He will act in His timing (Ps 37:5). Fill your mind with and meditate on God’s promises which are sure! By prayer, commit it to Him (Ps 37:5), asking that He will help us to trust Him more. Delight in Him, knowing that as you do so, your desires will be more and more conformed to His, and He will be pleased to give them to you (v4)!
As we seek to be patient and trust in God’s faithfulness, we need to lastly live faithfully. To wait for the Lord does not mean we sit around and do nothing, but we are to “do good, dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness… wait for the Lord and keep His way” (Ps 37:4, 34). This means that we are to obey Him, to walk in His commandments and to shun evil – to live lives that please Him. As we wait for God to act, we are to live faithfully before Him in every area of our lives. Let us store up God’s Word in our hearts, that we might know how to do so (v31). As we face the trials of this life, let us wait on the Lord. Let us be patient, find our strength and comfort in God, and seek to live godly lives before Him. Then we may say with the Psalmist: “why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God” (Ps 42:5,11; 43:5).
Joshua Parker attends Wahroonga Presbyterian Church and is currently studying Physiotherapy at Macquarie University