The Mercy of Waiting: learning to pray with Psalm 130

Psalm 130 begins with praying to God from the depths. But midway through there comes a word about waiting:

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.
(Psalm 130:5-6)

We tend to think of waiting as bad: waiting rooms at the hospital, waiting for your tax return, waiting for Christmas presents, waiting for a spouse/healing, etc.

Timex’s study of waiting indicates: “It’s easy to see why we don’t know where the time goes. The survey revealed that on average, people wait seven minutes for a cup of coffee, 20 minutes a day in traffic, 20 minutes a day for the bus or train and 32 minutes each time they go to the doctor.”[1]

But the waiting in Psalm 130 is different.

We know there is a good side to waiting; a waiting for something to be ready, such as dough rising so we can bake it or wine to age so it can be enjoyed; there is also the waiting for something to be mature, like a child growing into the fullness of life or love being awakened at the right moment.

The waiting in Psalm 130 is like that. First of all, it is fully engaged waiting. Not half attentive, but fully on board.

Secondly, it is not just waiting, but watching. A watchman cannot be off duty until finally the dawn breaks. The watchman watches with longing for the sun to rise. His eyes, his body, his very being are watching for it. So, too, God gives us the mercy of waiting so that we might be drawn to him more than to any other person or thing.

We read about it in the small New Testament letter of Jude, in verses 20-21:

But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

So, although everything in our culture trains us to go against it, enter into the mercy of waiting.

You could resist it, but no waiting was ever stopped by fighting against it.

Or you could be resigned to it, but no great life ever came from someone who has given up.

Or you could rest in it, trusting God to be at work even in your waiting.

You can either resist it; be resigned to it; or rest in it.

Rest in the mercy of waiting, fully engaged and attentive for God.


[1] http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120925006167/en/Time-Timex-Releases-Results-Survey-Detailing-Americans. Accessed: November 30, 2017.

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