I’ve spent a lot of this year waiting. Waiting for a baby to sleep through the night. Waiting for sickness to go away. Waiting for tests. Waiting for test results. Waiting for pain meds to kick in. Waiting to be a wife and mom again. Waiting for the night to pass. Waiting for my body to heal.
Waiting naturally lends itself to one of two things; I find that my reaction appears largely dependent on my level of sleep, pain, and general comfort. If my favorite jammies are clean, my pain pill is working, and my body is rested, my mind drifts towards hope. Verses like Psalm 62:5 spring readily to mind, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him.” And I breathe a deep sigh, roll over, and rest.
But when my pain spikes, or the night seems to last forever, or the only thing I can eat is bone broth… well, my mind turns more readily to anger. I wallow in hopelessness. Or I lash out in despair.
How do I walk this road? How do I grab at health and freedom and energy, while simultaneously resting in their absence? What if God has called me to a life of pain? Do I walk away from my prayers for healing? Can I?
So many things in life grab at this tension. Restoration of a marriage. Healing of a body. Search for a spouse. Fulfillment in a job. It’s not a new sensation, this screaming at God to do something. It’s as old as the book of Job, and as new as the newest baby born.
“Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at Your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make Your name known to Your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at Your presence!
When You did awesome things that we did not look for,
You came down, the mountains quaked at Your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides You,
who acts for those who wait for Him.”
Isaiah, a man who had stood in the very presence of God, cried out in desolation. “Why don’t you act, God!? Why aren’t you moving? I know you can do it. I saw you do it in the past. You are able. Why aren’t you ripping the skies apart and burning away our struggles?” And I’ve stood on that same spot. Crying for healing, for deliverance, for relief, knowing that my God could answer, yet he chose to delay His answer.
And then, in the last line, He provides a glimmer of what a soul looks like in this craving and turmoil: “[God] who acts for those who wait for Him.”
David knew about this. If anyone had opportunities to scream at God, yet chose to rest, it was David. He didn’t shove his screamings under the rug and put on a church face for God. That would fool no one. And it would create a stinted, untrusting relationship with his Savior. He was honest. The psalms are filled with his laments and crying for mercy. In Psalm 131, he provides a small glimpse of the key to a heart that is capable of great pleading and great resting:
“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.”
I must walk in gentle humility, with a knowledge that God can see a far bigger picture, and a further purpose for my circumstances. His massive, arching plan of redemption is too vast and too complex for my finite mind to grasp. I, as His ransomed, chosen daughter, am playing a part in this plan. I may not understand it until eternity. And I must choose to be okay with that.
“But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.”
I have to make the conscious effort to rest my soul. Sometimes I have to voice trust before I feel trust. In the midst of the pain and the storm, I will shout things to my soul that do not feel real at that time. A weaned child is not fixated on the food its mother provides. He is now able to enjoy his mother’s company. Our goal is that our soul be satisfied in God, not just in what God provides.
“O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.”
In the end, I will ask for all my needs. I will plead for healing, for rest, for comfort, for the basic meeting of needs and wants. But I will pair those pleadings with a desperate cry for God to be my only hope. Hand-in-hand these often warring prayers will bring my heart before the throne of my God. And if, in the end, He chooses to answer my prayer and to plant in me a deep, loving hope in Him alone, then anything else He might provide will just be gravy.