Waiting on the Lord

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Psalm 13 (NIV)

1How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? 3Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. 5But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

In this Psalm, David is waiting on the Lord. It doesn’t say how long he has been waiting but it’s long enough for him to feel like God has forgotten him (Will you forget me forever?). Or worse, has purposely ignored him (How long will you hide your face from me?). As David waits, he also grapples with thoughts that weigh heavily on him so that every day he has sorrow in his heart. In addition to his burdened heart, his trust in God’s goodness and justice is shaken as he watches his enemies prosper and fears their humiliation of him.

Wow. Is this what waiting on the Lord is like?

Early on in my relationship with God, I thought that waiting on him was a yoga-like, meditative experience of “letting go and letting God” take over the many cares of my life. As I let go, I figured that he would begin to move in mysterious ways and make all things right and bless me like in Psalm 20! However, over the years of trusting the Lord with my most treasured loved ones and most important desires of my heart, I have found that waiting on him is more like a wrestling match than a resting mat. It’s often very much like the inner struggle seen in Psalm 13.

When you truly wait on the Lord, you’re NOT waiting because you’ve run out of choices. You’re waiting because you’ve experienced the emptiness and serious shortfalls of following your own knowledge and wisdom. You’re waiting because you’ve developed a healthy distrust in yourself and now you’re intentionally choosing to have the Lord examine your heart’s intentions before you make any decisions or take any courses of action.

This choice to wait on the Lord is not an insignificant matter. The power of sin is rooted deeply in the false but stubborn belief that you know what’s best. And so, the moment you open your heart to the possibility that your way may not be the right way, you enter into a sobering conflict between the Spirit and your flesh/sin nature (Galatians 5:17).

In Psalm 13, I believe David is in the midst of this conflict. He’s wrestling with doubts of God’s goodness not because he is weak in faith or because he lacks commitment to the Lord. The exact opposite is true. He’s battling within because his faith is strong and he is unwilling to yield his mind and emotions to the lies, fears, cynicism, bitterness and suspicion that his sin nature and enemies are firing at him. David is wrestling within because he loves the Lord and is resolved to wait on him and obey him.

I love the way this Psalm ends. It ends with David reaffirming his commitment to wait on the Lord and trust in his steadfast love for him even in the midst of the raging conflict and turmoil roiling in his soul. He says, “BUT I TRUST in your unfailing love; MY HEART REJOICES in your salvation. 6 I WILL SING to the LORD, for HE HAS BEEN GOOD TO ME.” I love it. David has known and knows the unfailing love of the Lord. And so like the Apostle Paul, even though he is afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, because he has tasted the goodness of the Lord, he is never crushed, driven to despair, forsaken or destroyed.

Psalm 13 gives us a glimpse into what it’s like to truly wait on the Lord. Read it. Dwell on it. Pray it. And know that you are not alone as you battle and wrestle to wait on the Lord and follow his will.

Kenny Wada