When waiting feels unbearable - 18 May 2020

By Xanthe Hancox

Never pray for patience, the saying goes, you will not like how God teaches you. Most of us aren’t very good at waiting for small things at the best times, whether it’s for food to be served or for the traffic light to change. It’s not any easier in a post-COVID world where many of us are waiting for the government to tell us when we can go back to the office, attend church, or meet with our loved ones.

We are not told what trouble the psalmist is in, but we hear him begging for mercy. When he says, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” (v3) he confesses that he has no more reason to expect God’s help than any other sinner. Yet in his trouble he waits, “more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watch wait for the morning.”

I love the poetry of this psalm. The repetition of the last line reads like a chant, giving such a beautiful sense of the psalmist’s earnestness and focus.

Fear creeps into our waiting when there’s a possibility of bad news—and that can make the situation feel unbearable. Like the psalmist, we must keep our eyes fixed on God, the source of hope for this life and forever. There is no outcome that God will not help us handle.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we cautiously pray for patience as we deal with irritating little things and major, life-altering, fearful things. Thank you for your infinite mercy. Infuse us with unshakable hope in your Word. Amen

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