“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1
Waiting patiently for the Lord means we don’t try to cajole an answer out of him or force our wants and wishes on the Creator of the Universe. It means we do not act like unruly children unaccustomed to hearing the words “No,” or “Just a minute,” or “I have a better idea if you would just allow me to show you what it is.” Waiting patiently for God to answer means we don’t pry the answer loose from another soul and entice them to our way of thinking as if their solution could somehow be a strong substitute for God’s.
As we wait on the Lord, we are to realize he is at work in unseen ways not apparent to our limited perspective. We can only see dimly; he has the entire plan meticulously laid out. His ear is bent in our direction like a father giving undivided attention to his child. He is perfectly attuned to the sound of our cry and asks that we wait for his perfect way to be realized without grumbling or anxious rumblings erupting from inside. Waiting is what he routinely asks his children to do.
Other strategic verses tell us to “Be still, and know” that he is God, ultimately in charge of all the nations on earth and of our ordinary realms. Being still is wrapped up in the call to wait. When our minds are occupied with him, waiting becomes part of the process. A.W. Tozer reminds us that, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.” Stillness requires that we relinquish our restless agitation and make him our main agenda.
Joseph waited a long while within those dungeon walls and learnt the secret of being content while chains bound his feet and the stench of brotherly injustice permeated his tumultuous life. Before him, his great-grandfather Abraham was asked to wait a long while for the arrival of his promised son; later Hannah would agonize as she looked to God to hear her lament for a son. The Gospel records that Simeon and Anna waited at length before the assurance that they would hold the Christ child materialized. Even in Jesus’ story telling, the prodigal’s father turned his aching heart to the horizon for long stretches of days and nights as he awaited his son’s return.
It appears that we are not the first to be asked to wait. Apparently, the Lord does some of his most brilliant work in the waiting stretches of our lives. It just might be that he knows precisely what’s ahead when he asks us to wait awhile for him to work out the details in this season where we find ourselves just now.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell