One of the most pervasive themes in the psalms is waiting.
In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)
Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15)
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)
The waiting described in the psalms is not some abstract waiting, but waiting that is focused on a person: the Living God. Unlike generalized “waiting for the world to turn” or “waiting for a miracle,” waiting on the Lord is based upon what we know of who God is – His character – and what God does – His activity.
Waiting on the Lord says, “I know who God is. I know what I’ve seen God do in biblical history, in other human lives, and in my own life. Because of that, I wait for God to meet me and act in my life.”
This sort of waiting is hopeful waiting. Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Hope is fixed on the future but affects the way we live now. Hope is both an anticipation and an arrival at the same time. Waiting on the Lord is hopeful because we can both rest in God in the present and trust in God for the future.
But what does it look like to wait on the Lord? Does it mean we simply stop everything and sit around until God does something? No. Waiting on God is active. We continue with our lives, doing our best to walk in God’s ways, witness to God’s character, and fulfill our responsibilities as best as we can. In the midst of that, waiting on God gives us hope that transcends our circumstances as we look for God to work in our lives.
Here are three specific ways we can wait on the Lord with hope:
- First, we wait on God by reading His word. The psalmist says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). Waiting with our hope in God means we both hope in His Word and live by His Word. As it says in Psalm 119:166, “I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands.” The word of God gives us perspective and understanding so that we can move forward with God as we wait. Reading it regularly and transformationally helps us meet God and live with character in our waiting.
- Second, we wait on God in prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God—calling out to God—in the midst of our lives. Prayer is particularly important in times of waiting because we both need to express what is happening in our lives and wait upon God to speak to us. The regularity of calling out to God in prayer while waiting helps us give voice and give ear to God: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice” (Psalm 5:3). As the psalms show us, prayer is a lifeline in the midst of waiting.
- Third, we wait on God by watching for Him. Transformational reading of Scripture changes us internally and prayer makes us attentive, but what then? From this new vantage point, we want to be watchful for God. We attentively consider these questions: “what is God doing?” and “where is God at work?” It is of minimal value if we read the Bible and pray each morning but then zone out from God for the rest of our day. “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). To wait on the Lord in hope means we watch with expectation for the appearing and involvement of the Lord.
Lord, I wait for You.
There is so much happening in my life and the world today.
Give me eyes to see You and ears to hear You as I wait upon You in my life.
I trust You and I rest in You today.