January 09, 2015;
Waiting on God – Part 1
by Jay Hohfeler
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart is glad in Him,
because we trust in His holy name.
Let Your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in You.
(bold emphasis added)
If waiting on God is such a big part of our walk with Him, how, exactly, are we supposed to do so? What does God want from us during this holy time? Psalm 33:20-22 gives some profound guidance.
Wait on God (not the answer)
When we wait on God for help, particularly for something pivotal (a job, a future spouse, a baby, a business transaction, wisdom for a decision, healing), we can easily shift our antsy focus from Him to the specific request. It’s amazing the peace that comes from placing our weight on our Lord first and the request second. This Psalmist outlines God’s attributes and then shows how it is possible to wait well. He confesses, “Our soul waits for the Lord” (not the business deal or the healing). He leans on God (not the prayer request) in every one of these six lines. By contrast, we sometimes pray over what needs to happen.
For example, instead of just praying for the new job that we need, we can confess to God that it is Him we need. We pin our hopes to the only One who can help. The job cannot help. He can. It’s a good thing the new job I seek isn’t ultimately up to the hiring executive; it’s up to God, for Whom I am waiting. We look to God for rescue; we do not look to a prayer outcome to rescue us.
Wait on the real God (not the god of my own making)
When we wait on God, let’s make sure we aren’t really seeking the god of our own making that will surely give us the outcome that we want. We sometimes craft our own god who will agree with our plans. The result is stressful. When our god is really just the “god of my plans,” we sit on the sidelines yearning that this god must come through at every turn—just right. While we wait, we lose a glad heart. We cannot rest under God’s care because it all must work out a certain way that we’ve prescribed.
But what if we let God be God? What if we wait on Him and His answer alone? Whatever it is. Sure, God may answer in a way that changes our plans. He might disappoint us in the short run. Or He might open doors we never considered and are perfect for us. When we trust the real God, and He dashes our plans, it doesn’t have to land us in the ditch. Author Elizabeth Elliott, who is no stranger to having her plans dashed, wrote this in her novel, No Graven Image,
“God, if He were merely my accomplice, had betrayed me. If, on the other hand, He was God, He had freed me.”
We are free when we trust God to provide impeccably—whatever that looks like. We can stop stirring the pot in a particular way to make sure God comes through for us according to our vision. The writer of Psalm 33 doesn’t mention for what he is waiting. It almost doesn’t matter. He knows God hears him and rests in His protection and steadfast love. He has a glad heart while not knowing the future outcome. His hope is not in the outcome; his hope is in God. Big difference.
That’s why the Apostle Paul commanded believers to pray this way:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Why offer thanksgiving at the beginning of a prayer request? Because, when we are His, we can fully depend that He will do the highest good for us on many levels we cannot fathom. We don’t need to know the specific plan or outcome—we know Him. It will make perfect sense by a God who is infallible and knows our needs exhaustively. He invites us to inquire and wait on Him without our agenda. Waiting for a “god of our own making” to execute our plan will wear us out. Waiting on Him—whatever His perfect plan is—brings intimacy and freedom. Now that’s a God worth waiting for.
About the Author
Jay Hohfeler is a former PCPC elder, deacon, and Sunday school teacher. He and his wife Beth have been married for 24 years and have three daughters, Molly, Maggie, and Kate.