Phillips Brooks the 19th century New England Preacher, author and writer of the song “O Little Town of Bethlehem, was noted for his poise, patience, and dignified deportment.
Brooks, however, suffered moments of frustration and irritability in his ministry. One day a friend saw him feverishly pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Mr. Brooks?” he asked.
His response was classic.
“The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!”
I can certainly relate to that thought. Can you?
In one of David’s Psalms, he offers us some advice when we feel impatient and agitated.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
David knew something about perseverance, patience, and persistence. He waited to become King of Israel. He endured the jealous rage and assaults of King Saul. He waited for the unification of Israel after he came to the throne. He suffered setbacks. Experienced hardship. And withstood the attack of his enemies.
Waiting is difficult. My wife, Norma Jean, will tell you that I don’t like to wait. I don’t like to stand in line. Be stuck in traffic. Or wait in the doctor’s office. But I have slowly learned that as I face significant issues of life it is important to wait on the Lord.
There are three things we learn from David that will help us in this regard.
(1) Understand the Lord is in control.
As David looked at his life he remembered times that the Lord had delivered him “out of the horrible pit.” He recalled his “wonderful works.” He reflected on Jehovah’s “tender mercy,” His “loving-kindness,” and his “faithfulness.” David could say with confidence, “God is good.” And he knew that the Lord would provide.
As we wade through the challenges of life and wrestle with giving up control, we must trust in the providence of God, wait on Him, and know that He will “supply our every need.” In His time.
(2) Patience is a requisite to waiting.
Yes, waiting is hard. Waiting demands faith in the One on whom we are waiting. Waiting requires humility to admit that we are not in total control. Waiting calls for us to submit our will to His. Waiting involves qualities of meekness, forbearance, and self-control.
As we “wait upon the Lord,” we must say with our Savior, “not my will, but your will be done.” This spirit does not come easily. It takes effort. It appeals to our nobler motives. And challenges us to “walk by faith and not by sight.”
(3) Talk to God.
One of the reasons David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” is his desire to communicate with Him. The Bible calls this prayer. However, if we’re not careful our prayers can become more of a ritual than a real conversation with God.
David says God “heard my cry.” Prayer to David was not just a religious rite. He was real in expressing his deepest needs. He was transparent about his failings. Honest concerning his feelings. And open regarding his frustrations.
David’s prayer and plea, often found in the Psalms can be summarized, “Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King, and my God, For to You I will pray” (Ps 5:2).
This Psalm reminds me when I face trials, encounter temptation or experience trouble to direct my concerns to the Lord. My responsibility is to pray. And to wait. God’s role is to answer and intercede.
“Wait on the Lord” is a constant theme of the Psalms. It’s a good message for us today in a wicked world as we wait for the coming of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:12).
After all, as the 17th century English writer Jeremy Collier expressed it, “Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God’s will.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman