Patience is not my virtue! I intensely dislike waiting – whether that be in a queue in the supermarket, in traffic, in a waiting room, for someone to arrive or a hundred other situations. I find it frustrating and unsettling. So for me this creates a problem in the spiritual life – because, it seem, God often makes us wait. I think the Psalmist David learned this the hard way. In fact I have a sneaking suspicion he was not good in the patience department either. And the truth is I should have learned this a long time ago as, being brought up on Metrical Psalms, I was well aware of the refrain from Psalm 40 –
“I waited for the Lord my God,
and patiently did bear;
At length to me he did incline
my voice and cry to hear.”
It was my reading of Psalm 37 this week that reminded me of this – for there David again advises –
“Be still in the presence of the Lord,
and wait patiently for him to act.”
Psalm 37:7 [NLT]
The huge difficulty for me is to know when to be patient, when to wait and when to act. But David says – “Wait patiently for him to act.” That brings another frustration because I don’t know how long that will take! It may be “at length” but how long is that and what will it look like when he does? And does that mean that in the interim I just wait and do nothing? Perhaps – I am open to suggestions!
However, I am so thankful that David gives us encouragement and direction in the place of waiting because he also says –
“Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Commit everything you do to the Lord.
Trust him, and he will help you.”
Psalm 37:3-5 [NLT]
Trust in Him and do good. Take delight in Him. Commit everything you do to him. All of this we can do as we wait! And it is primarily as we delight in Him – that we will eventually see the flowering of our hearts desire. But another of these commands seem to me to encapsulate the heart of the Christian faith – to do good. So as I wait I can actually fulfil the mandate of the faith and turn what can be a barren place into a place of blessing!
“Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.”
“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.”