“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,
and he turned to me and heard my cry.”
My wife has recently discovered that she’s very skilled at word searches. She has installed and uninstalled countless word search apps to her iPod—some because they’re designed poorly, but most because they’re simply too easy for her. She solves these puzzles in seconds. And while I consider myself fairly decent at word searches, I’m nowhere near as talented as she is. I find myself thinking that there is nothing there, while Rachel is busy finding something on every line and column.
I doubt that Israel had word searches back in David’s time, but I’m certain that they frequently experienced similar feelings of waiting for something and finding nothing. Yet David makes it clear in Psalm 40:1 that it’s not just about IF you wait, it’s also about HOW you wait. Waiting is like a spiritual marinade: waiting with a righteous attitude that “tastes good” to the Lord (as opposed to something He’d want to spit out) will result in a favorable reward, but waiting with a wicked attitude only builds up barriers to God’s intervention.
It’s no good waiting on God if your waiting consists of complaints, criticisms, and concerns, because as you wait, they’ll permeate your heart and mind, and you’ll lose the faith needed to receive whatever God gives you when the time comes. Doubt refuses everything it’s offered, but persistent faith draws out blessing…even if it wasn’t there to begin with. Sustained faith doesn’t just receive whatever it’s given; it actually fuels the creation of something worth receiving. Our attitude in the valleys determines our altitude on the mountaintops!
In the physical realm, waiting requires no effort. But in the spiritual realm, waiting requires a lot of effort. If you want to work out your spiritual muscles, just try waiting patiently, rooted in faith, fed with hope, bearing joy and thanksgiving. It’s no easy task! Yet, as David discovered for himself, waiting patiently works perfectly—it never goes unanswered.
Ironically, most people find themselves “suddenly waiting.” It is rarely our intention to wait; we don’t often want to work out our spiritual muscles. But we have a Helper who is committed to making us strong. And in the meantime, God is hard at work, making even our “nothings” into “somethings.”