Waiting for God
BY RICHARD MAYHUE
Remember what it was like the last time you waited in a doctor's office? You weren't feeling well to begin with. You read a magazine and then another one. Then you began to get impatient and even a little angry and upset; you wondered if the doctor really cared about you.
I suppose in the seasons of life, there are always situations that bring anxiety to our heart. We get despondent or impatient; we wonder if God really cares, or if He will ever bring relief. We ask when? why? how come? why me? and a hundred and one other questions.
When you get into such a moment of doubt, I believe Psalm 13 will, in a simple but wonderful way, bring you back to your senses. This is a psalm that comes from the heart of David.
David, of course, was a man after God's own heart. Yet, in trying times even he began to question God. And so this psalm begins with an outburst of his humanness:
Verse 1. How long, O Lord, Wilt thou forget me forever? how long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?I'm sure every one of us at one time or another feels that way. We have a problem and we pray and pray. Nothing happens. Like David, we would ask: Lord, have you forgotten me? Don't you know what suffering I am going through now? How long are you going to ignore me?
We live in a feeling society. We are feeling people. There's nothing wrong with that; God created us as feeling beings. But when we walk through the valley, we often cannot feel the presence of God. And so we feel forsaken.
When we depend on our feelings to experience the presence of God, we are liable to miss Him. The way to know that God is with us is through the Word of God. In our hour of darkness, it is by faith that we experience the light and the love of God.
If we know God through His Word, then we will have the right feelings about God. We can also better discern our own feelings as to what God is or is not doing in our life.
Verse 2a. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart all the day?Lord, I haven't heard from you for a long time. So, the only one I can talk to is myself. How long shall I take counsel in my own heart? How long should I wrestle with my own thoughts?
Notice that David was pouring his heart out to God. He wasn't demanding God to do something at once. He was telling God that he was frustrated, that relying on his own wisdom hadn't produced any solution.
I would liken that to a baby crying. A baby cries because he has a problem. Maybe he is hungry; maybe he's in pain or he needs to be changed. But whatever it is, he is incapable of doing anything about it himself. Crying out, therefore, is the baby's natural expression.
As old as some of us may look or feel, we're nothing but babies in the spiritual kingdom of God. And there are those appropriate times when we need to cry out, "I'm hurting and I need help." That's what David did.
Verse 2b. How long will my enemy be exalted over me?Lord, how long will I be a failure? How long are You going to let other people gloat over my misfortune?
Why do you suppose God is silent at times? If our heavenly Father is the giver of all good gifts, why has He not answered our prayers when we desperately ask for relief?
It could be our prayers. God promises in I John 5 that if we ask anything according to the will of God, He hears us and will grant us our request. So, we need to ask ourselves: Have I been praying according to God's will? Am I more concerned with what I want than what He wills for me?
Or it could be that we're not praying with the right motive. Whatever we do, from the simplest to the most complicated, I Corinthians 10:31 says, we are to do unto the glory of God. When we seek deliverance from our trials, therefore, we need to make sure that we are not asking for deliverance so that we can resume doing our thing, going our own way. Our request must be so motivated as to bring God the greatest glory.
Learning process. Oftentimes, God makes us wait because the lesson has not been fully learned. James 1:2-4 says:Count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into diverse temptations, multiple trials, knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience. And patience, let it have its perfect work that itGod wants to mold us into the image of Christ, and He often does it through trials. These trials work patience and ultimately result in godly perfection in our lives.
might make you perfect, complete, entire, lacking nothing.
So, it could be that God wants us to remain in His program longer. Could be that the time is just not right.
Secret things. One other suggestion: Deuteronomy 29:29 tells us that the secret things belong to God. It could very well be that what you are going through or will go through will never make sense to you in this life. God has His own divine reason.
But by grasping the inexhaustible love of God, you can say: "Father, by faith I know You have a perfect plan for my life. Even though I don't understand it, I know it will ultimately bring glory to You."
Verse 3. Consider and answer me, O Lord, my God; Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;Note that David spoke to God in a personal way, addressing Him as "my God". And in that little phrase "O Lord", he expressed his unconditional submission. Effectively, he was prostrating himself before the sovereign God, acknowledging that He is the Lord of his life.
David undoubtedly was hurting when he wrote this psalm. You know what that's like. Maybe it's been a financial squeeze, maybe it's been a physical malaise. And there's pain, real pain. May I suggest that the best way to relieve that pain is to focus your attention on God Himself.
All too often, though, we consider seeking God's help as our last resort. We try everything else, and only after everything else has failed Praising God is the only thing David could do. It's the only way in which he could keep his sanity. It's the only right response to God.
In his praise, he remembered how he had trusted in God's lovingkindness and how God had dealt bountifully with him. It's a wonderful affirmation of faith. He also looked ahead, saying, "My heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord."
You know what he was saying? Even if God had given us nothing but eternal life, He had enriched us way beyond what our human minds can possibly compute. And so, David rejoiced in the fact that he had been saved.
Way to endure. Remembering that God has saved us from an eternity in hell and praising Him for His mercy and lovingkindness is the way to endure. It's the way to struggle through the pains. It's the way to survive our disappointments.
It is to go back and grab a hold of the day of my salvation. It is to give thanks for the moment that God opened my eyes to see the gospel of Christ with all its unveiled glory. It is to praise God for giving me a new heart so that I finally came to the foot of the cross with brokenness in my heart and tears in my eyes, and embraced the Savior who would never leave nor forsake me.
Absolute trust. There's a continuity in David's life. There was a mark of his spirituality, a mark of his walk with God. Though he faced many enemies, his hope was always do we finally go to God. But God ought to be where we go first of all, second of all, third of all and last of all.
And instead of saying "Lord, get in step with me", we ought to say as David did, "Lord, enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death. Give me understanding, get me out of this predicament, for without your help, I shall die."
Verse 4. Lest my enemy say, "I have overcome him," Lest my adversaries rejoice when I am shaken.In verse 3, the appeal was for his own life. Here, it is for the glory of God. If help is not forthcoming, he's saying, my enemy will say, "I have overcome him."
David, you see, was a representative of God. If his enemy said, "I have overcome David," it would be tantamount to saying, "I have overcome God."
Likewise, if they rejoiced in the shaking of David, they would effectively be rejoicing in the shaking of David's God.
He appealed both for his own good and for the good and the glory of God. I appreciate that so much in the life of David.
What do you do after you have pleaded your case out of spiritual exhaustion, and have fallen on your knees to pray? Where do you go from there? Well, David went to praising God:
Verses 5,6. But I have trusted in Thy lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He hath dealt bountifully with me.
in God and the Word of God.
Thus, in Psalm 31:14,15, David also said, "I trusted in Thee, O Lord: I said, 'Thou art my God.' My times are in Thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies, and from those who persecute me."
Even if God had given us nothing but eternal life, He had enriched us way beyond what our human minds can possi
Although he had moments of despair, David nevertheless put his total trust in God. He was fully aware that his future was altogether in the hand of God. He asked for deliverance from his enemies, but he was willing to wait.
ExamplesUndoubtedly, some of you are currently walking through the deep valley. I cannot tell you why, and I cannot tell you how long that will be. I can only tell you that God is on the throne. And no matter how long it will be, I know that God will sustain you, support you, strengthen you, and be by your side.
But I pray that we all would be people of patience, people of faith, people that are steadfast, people who perhaps could walk in the footsteps of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. They had prayed and prayed for a child, but they didn't have any. Then, when they were beyond their child-bearing years, God appeared. God wasn't late; He was right on time and the forerunner of Jesus was born.
God is always on time. He is never late. His timing is always perfect.
Men that waited. When I think through the Bible, when I think through the great men of faith, I think of Noah. He had to wait 120 years for God to manifest His greatness. I am not sure I could endure the mocking during the waiting period, building a boat for a world that knew little of water or rain or floods, or anything that could float.
And I think of Abraham who waited 25 years for the promised son to be born. I think of Moses who waited 40 years from the time he thought he was in the will of God until he really was in the will of God and began his ministry.
What are you waiting for? Whatever it is, pray for the kind of patience that was exhibited by those men of faith. And whoever you are, remember that a false start resulting from impatience could end in a spiritual disaster.
Remember King Saul? He was told to wait for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices to God. But when he saw the enemy approaching and his own troops quaking for fear, he went ahead and offered up the sacrifices himself. Because of his impatience, He lost his kingdom. It's always better to wait for God than to run ahead of Him.
ApplicationPsalm 13 is a great placeGod's waiting room. If He has gotten you there, it is for a good, good reason. In closing, let me call your attention to some of the ways David handled the waiting room of God:
1. In the midst of waiting, David did not find another doctor, he didn't abandon God.
2. David didn't try to redefine God. Instead, he reaffirmed who God ishis sovereign Lord, his Savior.
3. He didn't go around and broadcast the doubt and hurts in his heart, telling people how long God had made him wait. Rather, he brought his problem directly to God by prayer.
4. He didn't begin by seeking the resources of men. He called on God; he sought the resources of God first. He knew his priorities.
5. He did not chuck reality; he faced it squarely. He didn't get mad at God; he presented his petition. It was really a psalm of worship and praise.
6. He didn't indict God; he admitted his own lack of understanding, asking God to enlighten him.
7. He didn't bargain with God, saying if you do this for me, I'll do that for you. While waiting for Him, he said he would sing praises to the Lord.
Waiting on God will be the rule of our life. Immediately opened doors are the exceptions. And waiting on God means resting and not worrying; it means praising God, it means praying to Him and asking for understanding. o
Dr. Richard L. Mayhue is Vice President and Dean of The Master's Seminary, 13248 Roscoe Blvd., Sun Valley, CA 91352.
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