Like many of you, LeRoy and I are spending a rainy weekend focusing on the sufferings of our Redeemer and the power of His resurrection. We’ve also entered a season of waiting for what this newest treatment for him will bring (and you can read about that by clicking here to see my last blog post).
We are waiting in hope.
In my daily reading of the Psalms, this day’s reading is from chapter 102, and it begins with the prayer of an afflicted one, who is weary. It is a Psalm that we can very much relate to today.
The Psalmist pours out his complaint before the Lord and begins this Psalm with the request:
“Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” (Psalm 102:1—2)
As I read these words, I pause to cry out again for LeRoy’s healing, for relief from the constant pain, for release from the grip of this horrific affliction.
As I continue through this Psalm, it is quite descriptive of LeRoy’s painful existence:
“For my days pass away like smoke, my bones burn like a furnace . . . I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass.”
But, just as his complaint is building steam—the Psalmist shifts dramatically to announce truth and counsel his heart with the reality of the power of the God he worships (v.12):
“But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come.”
And I pause at this point in the chapter to ask that the LORD might arise and have pity on my man, that he might place His favor on him—that the time might have finally come to release him from his pain.
Moving to verse 17, I’m again reminded of the precious kindness of God:
“He regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer.”
And I thank Him. I’m thanking Him that I know He hears my prayer, and the prayers of so many of you. And I acknowledge that we are asking BIG.
The Psalmist then makes another glorious declaration in the next section (I hope you have your Bible open to Psalm 102 and are following along with me):
“Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, so that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise, when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.” (Psalm 102:18—22)
We see the writer’s earnest longing here . . . that the Lord might hear the groaning of the afflicted, of those “doomed to die” and deliver them. But, the point of their deliverance isn’t just for their personal relief—but ultimately, the writer wants the Lord praised among all peoples as they see God’s power to deliver His own.
The Psalmist records his deepest desire here—that the Lord might be worshiped and praised as He deserves. And yet, coupled with his praise of the Almighty is the writer’s admission that this merciful God, for some reason that he can’t comprehend, has brought him great affliction:
“He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. ‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away in the midst of my days—you whose years endure throughout all generations!
Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.” (verses 23—27)
This afflicted Psalmist is declaring the power and position of the God he worships, and once again, lifts his appeal before him. He contrasts the temporary and fleeting nature of creation with the eternal reality of God’s existence. And he makes his appeal for release from his painful imprisonment. Just as I’m appealing for my husband’s release.
And as I lift my appeal, I’m waiting.
In the providence of God, before I was born, He knew I’d be waiting with hope for LeRoy’s recovery on this very day, and He also directed me, long ago, to take on the discipline of combining one chapter of the Psalms with my daily Bible reading.
The eternal God knew that today I’d reach this Psalm in my daily reading. He has a word for me (and for you) today.
He has been my dwelling place . . . since I was a little girl . . . but He has been around since long before anything I can see came into existence. In fact, I find great comfort in knowing that He has always been . . . there is never a time when He was not. He has always been, and forever will be, the Great “I Am.”
This week, I also spent some time praying through Psalm 90. Would you join me in considering these words:
“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” (v. 2)
Again, we see that God was very much “before.” Before all that I can see—God was. And God is. He is the “I Am.”
I’ve been carrying around a phrase in my heart all week: He is the “beginning-less” God.
My mind can’t wrap itself around understanding this great mystery, but my heart can. How do I know He has always been here? How am I assured that He is the “I Am” that is unceasing, that is self-existent, and self-sustaining? The knowledge and assurance comes from the witness of His Spirit that He sent to lead us into all truth and that resides within His own to reveal and confirm to us His reality. His Word assures us of it and His Spirit bears witness to us of His eternal nature.
Trusting in the fact that He knows the end from the beginning, that nothing takes Him by surprise or disturbs His plan . . . that He exists outside the limited unit we call “time” . . . brings confidence and complete rest. He is the Beginning-less God.
Today, many of you are waiting as well. You are watching and waiting to see if a loved one will recover from Covid-19. You are anxiously waiting for answers, wondering if you will have enough funds for groceries in the coming weeks. You are waiting in isolation—with no one to bear the burden of your loss as you are suddenly unemployed and very fearful of what the coming months may hold.
What can we do when waiting for the unknowns of our future to be resolved?
We turn to the God who knows what is coming.
He holds the answers to questions of eternal magnitude. If you’ll continue walking with me through Psalm 90, we’ll see how we can wait with a confident expectation as we readjust our focus from the temporal to the eternal:
“You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!’ For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (vv. 3–4)
It is a good thing to continually remind ourselves that we are mere dust. We can easily get caught up in the frantic pace of life, the deadlines, and press reports . . . we can become so enamored with “Today!” that we push aside thoughts of eternity. But I think this state of “sheltering in place” where many have stopped the normal routines of hurry, provides space for us to consider the eternal.
Considering the eternal as we wait, puts things in proper perspective.
As physical beings who house the Spirit of the living God, we operate in two realms, but eternity beckons our heart.
Psalm 103 tells us that our days are like grass; and James warns us that our lives are like a vapor short-lived and soon over. The fleeting nature of this life is a compelling reason to live for more, to place greater value on preparing for our future residence than on our temporary one.
What can we do in times of waiting?
We need to recognize that all of this life is a period of waiting. We are all waiting for this brief span to be completed before entering the doorway to the eternal. We are given these few days to prepare for that realm, to carry out the mission and purpose for our lives in this realm in order to hear the greeting on that day: “Well, done, good and faithful servant.”
We are given this fleeting and momentary span to take part in filling the earth with His glory.
Thus the instructive admonition in Psalm 90:
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (v.12)
God wants us to apply ourselves to understanding the brevity of this life, and in the moments He has allowed us, to intentionally pursue living out the good works He has planned for us. In other words, it is as though God is saying in this verse, “Don’t waste your life with the temporary!”
As I write this post, on a dark Saturday morning, on Resurrection Day eve, I’m reflecting on the period of waiting for some long ago, sisters of mine, who also were in a painful time of waiting. The women who followed Jesus were experiencing deep grief as they waited. As they silently walked away from the horror of the cross, they were waiting. As they served a Passover Sabbath meal to their families, they were waiting . . .
They were waiting to return to the tomb with burial spices, waiting for the unknown and uncertain future without their Lord, waiting with broken hearts for all they’d seen, but waiting in loyal trust in the One whom they’d faithfully followed . . . all the way to the cross.
On Sunday, they were rewarded for their wait by the resurrected Christ. Just as all will be rewarded who wait with loyal trust in Him. This wait is not a passive one, but is filled with service and expectancy.
Much of the world is waiting today. As LeRoy and I wait to see if this treatment will bring him relief, we are reminded of the long wait many of you are experiencing as well. This is a waiting season as none other we’ve experienced, is it not?
In a sense all our life is spent in the waiting period of the “day before” like that brief space of time between the crucifixion and the Resurrection. We are all waiting for that moment when we will step from this life of death to the realm of eternal life.
We are waiting to enter the eternal realm of the Resurrected One.
Are you living in the awareness that your days are quite limited in comparison to eternity?
How are you spending your “waiting moments” in this season between birth and leaving this realm?
May we all wait well.
Thank you so much for praying for LeRoy. He actually had brief periods of relief from his pain yesterday, which he’s not experienced in years. That deserves a huge shout of praise. I’m sending up continual thank you’s to the Father, and pleas for this relief to increase, for improvement to be full and lasting. Please continue to pray that this might actually become his new “normal”—a life without excruciating pain. On Thursday, we return to the surgery center for another nerve blocking injection. Again, we are so grateful for your intercession for us.
And pray for us to wait well.