Patiently building us

Psa. 130:5‭-‬6
I wait for the Lord , my soul waits, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; More than the watchmen for the morning.

One would be hard-pressed to find a person who would say that exercising patience is a joy. There are many different reasons why most of us find waiting distasteful. A common reason has to do with whether we have confidence in the thing for which we are waiting. When waiting for the phone to ring after what one thinks was a successful job interview, patience can be difficult because of the unknown. This is the same kind of waiting faced by the student who just suffered through final exams and now must agonize for days or weeks until the results are released. Patience in this context becomes difficult to practice because one is not waiting for a sure thing. We do not need to feel this way when we wait on God because we know that He will come through for us.

The Psalmist here likens our waiting on the Lord to the watchmen waiting for the morning. What we know about these watchmen and the patience they must exercise is that they are waiting for a sure thing. The hours that go by overnight may seem like an eternity, but the watchmen know that the morning certainly will come. That is a guarantee. It comes every day without fail. The Psalmist is stating that He waits with even more confidence on the Lord. If he can trust the morning to come without fail, he certainly can trust the one who brings the morning without fail. When we wait on God, we do not wait on the unknown. Although it may not be clear to us how God will move on our behalf, we know from his promises in Scripture that He will indeed move. Waiting on God means knowing that we can rely on him and behaving accordingly. We expect that of which can we can sure.

Psa. 27:14
Wait for and confidently expect the Lord ; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.

Exercising expectant confidence while waiting on the Lord has its purposes for our spiritual growth. To understand what those purposes are, we first must look at the reasons why we sometimes act out of impatience. This verse addresses an issue that believers and non-believers alike face as they navigate life’s decisions. A common motivator is fear. This is not the type of fear that causes us to lose sleep or have nightmares after hearing ghost stories or watching scary movies. It is the type of fear that causes us to make decisions based on the limited insight we have. Clear thinking and wise decision-making do not exist in a fearful environment. What we find there are rash judgments and detrimental missteps. The fear of what may happen or of not knowing what may happen if God does not move how we would choose can cause our patience to crumble.

When we patiently wait on God, we are choosing to exercise courage instead of fearfulness. The instructions we receive in this Psalm tell us to wait confidently and be strong. These go together. It takes strength to face a fearful situation and wait for God either to move or to instruct us on how we should move. The fact that we may be afraid does not mean that we are not courageous. The courageous act comes when we face that which we fear and do so without wavering. This is a circular process of growth in which our strength and courage increase each time we gather up the fortitude to be strong and courageous. Patiently waiting on God causes us to grow in strength and courage so that over time we are more successful and effective in practicing patience and exercising good judgment in the face of fear. This is much-needed growth as our patience is met with greater challenges as the journey continues.

Lam. 3:25‭-‬26
The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, to those who seek Him. It is good that one waits quietly For the salvation of the Lord.

When we read the life instructions we are provided through scripture, a common theme is stillness. It may often be the case that we have a mental picture of stillness being a mere lack of movement. In some instances, this will be the case. Perhaps we would like to make a decision to move because God has not moved on our behalf. In that instance, He may ask us to stand still. Another way that we can view stillness relates to our composure. Someone who is easily excitable by a circumstance that should not be taken so seriously might be told to be still. This is a call to remain quiet and composed instead of becoming agitated or worried. Stillness in this context requires that we keep a level head in the face of whatever challenge surrounds us when it would be easy or even expected that we would lose the ability to remain calm.

If we are to exercise a quiet and calm patience when waiting on the Lord, there are at least two great reasons to do so. First, this verse tells us that God is good to those who wait on him in this way. This goodness is a reference to his faithfulness in coming through for those who patiently and calmly expect that He will fulfill his word to work things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purposes. Second, it is good for us to wait on God in this way. This means that nothing bad can come out of our quiet patience. Waiting is no gamble. Only goodness will abound when we exercise stillness in waiting on God to direct and help us. There is no reason to be worried or excited or agitated. Regardless of the circumstance, we have every reason to be calm and quiet while God works things out. The goodness that results will be seen not only in our spiritual growth but in the encouragement of others who watch us walk through the journey.

Jam. 5:7‭-‬8
So wait patiently, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious harvest from the land, being patient about it, until it receives the early and late rains. You too, be patient; strengthen your hearts, because the coming of the Lord is near.

As mentioned earlier, our limited insight greatly influences our ability to wait on God as He commands. One issue we frequently encounter is that of timing. It is commonly said that God is never late, but He often will show up at the eleventh hour. This is a reference to our lack of understanding of God’s perfect timing. If we say that God showed up at the eleventh hour, it is because we have designated a time by which He should move. This is based on the little that we know. What we fail to realize is that God does not show up at the last minute. God shows up at the right minute. He not only understands what perfect timing is, He designed it and causes it. We simply do not have that level of understanding and, for that reason, we fail to appreciate that God moves at the precise moment He should move. We must pursue the perspective that He has.

The scriptural reference here to a farmer and his harvest emphasizes that there are seasons to a believer’s journey. Some things are specifically designed to happen at one time but not another. While we may make our own determinations regarding these things, it is not for us to do so. When we want God to act or speak, and He simply fades from view, we may want to consider whether it is merely not the season for him to bring that which we have requested. If we enter a season of growth through patient waiting, then we can expect that we will be faced with circumstances that will require us to wait patiently. We may not know that this is the case at the time, but we must be open to the possibility. During such times it is important to ask God for insight so that we may faithfully endure the season of growth and reap a bountiful harvest.

Pro. 20:22
Do not say, “I will repay evil”; Wait for the Lord , and He will rescue and save you.

There are some obstacles to our exercise of patient waiting that are rooted in the same spiritual ill. This proverb speaks to three obstacles in particular. They are power, control and judgment. All of these are rooted in pride. In this example, the impatient man desires to exercise some punishment or retribution on his enemy instead of waiting for God to come to his rescue. When he does this, he is failing to recognize God’s power to defend him. Instead, he proudly believes that he must rely on his own power for his defense. This is no different when it comes to the matter of control. One who trusts in God will let him control the situation. One who trusts more in himself will take matters into his own hands instead of waiting on God. By taking this tack, he is again stating that his way is better than God’s. He has taken control of retribution because he somehow believes his power to accomplish it is greater than God’s. He fails to realize that retribution is not his to have.

All of this is nothing more than judgment. While there may be consequences in this world for committing a wrong against another, this is not the same as repaying evil with evil. It is not within our jurisdiction to exercise retribution. Whether the one who has committed evil against me should be punished is for God to determine. Perhaps God instead desires to extend mercy over that person. He knows the heart that we do not. It is our command to step aside and allow God to bring about a just resolution. It takes a humble person to keep from exercising what might be viewed as a right of revenge and place the matter back into God’s hands for him to handle it as He sees fit. The patience of a proud person will quickly run out; the patience of the humble one will increase to ever-flowing. It is simply a matter of whether we trust more in the power, control and judgment of God’s than of our own.

Patient waiting on God can have incredible transformative effects on us when we allow the process to take its course. If we trust God completely, we will find many ways to relinquish control to him. One of those ways is by simply waiting for him to move or instruct us. When we do that, we exercise faith in God’s timing and in his justice. What we reap are further spiritual development and goodness from our Father. What He reaps is joy in our faith and trust in him. The world in which we live will bring many things our way to catch us off-guard and throw us off our game. The great enemy we battle will do the same. Remaining quiet as we wait for God is not a sign of weakness or fear. It is a sign of great courage and confidence that the one who promised to see us through all trials will indeed fulfill that promise. And it is a testament to his faithfulness in developing that quiet patience in us.