How Do You Wait on the Lord? (Hint: “Just Trust God” Isn’t the Answer.)


What does it take to wait on the Lord?

Actually, let?s back up slightly. ?Wait on the Lord? can be Christian-speak that doesn?t actually connect with real life. Try this. What does it take to have real joy even in the midst of chronic pain? How can you live with an unsaved spouse, or no spouse, a vindictive boss, crushing medical expenses, a stagnant economy ? in short, all the hard and hurtful things that come from being a sinner in a world of sinners ? and still have hope, peace, and contentment in God? That?s waiting on the Lord: your circumstances don?t change, your prayers are unanswered, and there?s nothing you can do about it. But instead of becoming bitter, turning your back on God, numbing the pain with alcohol or pornography or three tubs of Ben and Jerry?s, you keep praying, keep trusting, keep obeying God. How do you do that?

That?s what Psalm 33 is about. Here?s how the psalm ends:

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. (Psalm 33:20-22)

Pause. Don?t read this and think, Okay, I need to be glad in God. I need to trust God more. If I could do that, then I?d be able to wait on him. That?s a bland, tasteless, monotone walk with God. This is the end of the psalm. There?s a rich foundation of truth that needs to be laid before we can say with the psalmist, ?Our soul waits for the Lord.? Here?s why the psalmist ? and why we ? can wait on God with vibrant confidence.

God will never do you wrong. Verses 3-4 are filled with proclamations of God?s uprightness:

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.

God doesn?t have a half-hearted commitment to doing things right as long as it doesn?t interfere with the bottom line. He loves righteousness and justice. All his works are done in faithfulness. He fills the earth with his faithful love. You can?t wait on a God who might cut corners ? but you can wait on a God who will never do you wrong.

God spoke the universe into existence.Wait. What does that have to do with my circumstances? Everything, actually. Any situation that requires you to wait on God will carry with it the temptation to develop tunnel vision: this trial, this need is the final measure of God?s goodness, God?s power, God?s love. If you do ______, then I?ll trust you. Verses 6-9 explodes tunnel vision. The Big Dipper, the Himalayas, and the Mariana Trench were child?s play for God. He?s not challenged?by anything. But this isn?t merely information to browbeat you into submission. Connect verses 6-9 with v.5b: ?the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.? The Creator of all is the God of steadfast love. No part of his world is absent from his love; everything in creation is his servant, awaiting his command to show steadfast love to his people. To you. You can wait on that kind of God.

God finishes his ?to-do? list. No human plan ever goes perfectly. Something is always out of our control. Something is always left undone. Not so for God. He deliberately frustrates the plans of those who oppose him, but his plans are always accomplished:

The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations. (Vv.10-11)

At the end of every day, and at the end of all days, God can say, ?My goals have been completed.? When you wait on people, you?re always left wondering if something beyond their control will prevent them from showing up. God is not like that. You can wait on the God whose counsel stands forever.

Nothing and no one else but God can give salvation. After talking about God, the psalmist now talks about us:

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. (Vv. 16-17)

These aren?t the only options for false hopes. We?re invited to personalize these. A ________ is a vain hope for salvation. How do you fill in the blank? Steady pay check? Romantic relationship? Control over your schedule? The perfect diet? After all the psalm has told us about God, we?re prepared to say, ?This, too, is a vain hope for salvation.? But look what a promise awaits those who turn from false saviors to the true God:

?Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love, that he may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.? (Vv.18-19)

Who is it that God delivers from death and provides for in famine or want? Those who fear him ? that?s the right response to his majesty and glory ? and hope in him ? the right response to his steadfast love freely offered in Jesus.

And now we?re back where we started:

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. (Psalm 33:20-22)

Where do you need to wait on the Lord? Don?t settle for a clich?d, ?I just need to trust the Lord.? Listen to Psalm 33: we wait for a God who will never do us wrong, who spoke reality into existence, who accomplishes all his plans, who freely offers the only salvation that truly saves. And then speak back to this God. He?s worth waiting for.

Photo by Magdalena.

My wife Anna, son Elliot, and I live in the little town of Franklin, WV. I'm a pastor. I have a degree in wildlife biology, which is useful for pastoring (actually, no). I like books, nature photography, working out, and being with my family. In a previous life I was William Wallace.