Do you like to wait? Whether it’s waiting in line at the post office, waiting for the doctor, or waiting for same-day-delivery, I don’t like to wait. I want it now! And yet, I read the Bible and see a lot of people waiting. There were Abraham and Sarah waiting and waiting for God to keep His promise. There was Joseph waiting it out in an Egyptian prison, or all of Israel waiting for her Messiah. And then there are all those Bible verses commanding, “Wait!”
The psalmist David repeats himself in calling us to wait for God: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD” (Psalm 27:14). David wants us to know that we can even grow strong and courageous as we wait – wait for God.
Surprisingly, David’s words come at the conclusion of his anxious cry to God for help. He has just prayed, “Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me, and they are breathing out violence” (Psalm 27:12). But the importance of waiting for God is a lesson that David has learned from years of experience: God is worth waiting for! David is likely talking first to himself, and then encouraging us to wait for God. Even David has to frequently remind himself not to get agitated but, rather, to wait for the Lord.
The word “wait” is such a big word in the vocabulary of faith, that there are several Hebrew words translated by our word “wait”. The Hebrew word David uses here is qavah, the same word Isaiah uses in Isaiah 40:31: “But those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” It is clear that David, like Isaiah, has learned that waiting for God can strengthen and encourage.
The word qavah carries the idea of anticipation and optimistically watching for something to come or to happen. Qavah is like the little child on Christmas Eve eagerly waiting for Christmas morning. This is not passive waiting but expectant waiting, such that qavah is often linked in Scripture with the word “hope”. David is talking about a kind of waiting that is looking for good things to happen. David has learned through the years and through a lot of ups and downs that God is worthy of trust. So, as David wraps up a psalm written in the throes of grave danger and darkness, he cannot help but come to the conclusion: “Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD.”
In a time of hard waiting on God I came across these encouraging words by Ben Patterson about waiting: “What we become as we wait is at least as important as the thing we wait for. To wait in hope is not just to pass the time until the wait is over. It is to see the time passing as part of the process God is using to make us into the people He created us to be.” (Ben Patterson, Waiting: Finding Hope When God Seems Silent)
Yes, “wait” is a four-letter word, but an encouraging word for us in any trouble or danger. We, no less than David, can be strong and take courage as we wait for God and what He will do in and through us.
Name and reflect on the thoughts and feelings today’s reading stirs in you. Take a few moments to talk with God about them.