Psalm 37:7 (NLT)
7 Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Psalm 37:7 (NKJV)
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him
Most of us seem to be constantly wishing God would hurry up, so then this verse seems to be at odds with what most of us are wanting. Maybe we should consider what it is saying then.
I want to look at how we do this, but first I need to give some context to what is being said.
What: ‘What does He mean by rest and wait?’
Does God mean ‘don’t do anything’, or wait for Him to do everything? No! According to the Psalm we have already:
- Trusted in the Lord
- Done good
- Dwelling in the land
- Delighting ourselves in God
- Committed our way to God
They are all actions, so why use the word ‘wait’? What am I waiting for?
We see clearly in the Bible that God is a God of action and initiative.
- He sent His Son
- His Son gave His life
- Jesus went around ‘doing good’
- He was constantly ‘doing the Father’s business’
- Jesus said ‘I must do the will of Him who sent Me’
- When Jesus left to go into Heaven, He asked, ‘Why do you stand gazing into the sky?’
- Go into all the world and make disciples
None of this sounds to me like resting or waiting! So, what is this passage talking about?
- It’s talking about the fact that there is our part to play in life, but also God’s part that only He can play!
- In this passage, I am waiting for God to do His part!
- I have done everything, now at the end of myself what do I do? Rest and wait patiently on God for what He is going to do.
This passage has sometimes been misused by people negating their responsibility, but that is entirely misreading what is written.
- David has done a lot! We will look at this journey in a moment, but it is far from one of laziness.
God here takes it for granted that we have been both diligent and wise!
- Hard work is not a good idea, it’s the only idea!
But when we have done all we can do, then there are elements where we just need God to show up and do what only He can do.
Why would I need patience for God? Throwing ‘patiently’ in there is quite a funny concept.
We need patience for someone who is slow or not getting it. I don’t need patience for someone who is efficient, doing things right, understanding everything, knows what I mean, so to say to wait patiently for God:
- He doesn’t get it
- He doesn’t understand
- He is a bit slow
- He is not doing it right
Is God a bit slow?
There is another kind of patience, a kind that is illustrated by perhaps:
- The farmer who plants his crop, then waits patiently for the harvest
- The businessman who sets up his business, works diligently, then waits patiently for the steady growth
- The parent who invests day after day into their kids and waits patiently for them to grow into Godly young men and women!
That’s what the ‘waiting patiently’ is all about! There is a natural time between the seeding and the harvesting.
Sometimes it would have been easier if they said exactly what they meant, and so God, being God, does!
Rest and just wait patiently!
- God gives us not just a command, but how to do it! The reason for that is there are a lot of ways to wait and God had a specific way in mind!
How: How do we do this?
How, in the midst of the storms of life, do I ‘rest and wait patiently’?
1. A place of confidence (and not fear)!
Have you ever tried to rest or sleep in a place where you were not confident? You don’t sleep!
When we have a confidence in God we can rest and wait patiently. But if we don’t have confidence in God and we live with fear that:
- He might not come through
- Maybe God is angry with me
- What if God can’t help me?
- I don’t deserve this
- My friend had their situation go all wrong
Without a confidence in God there is no resting or waiting patiently, there is only fear, anxiety and worry.
Proverbs 14:26 (KJV)
26 In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.
When we revere God rather than fear people, or situations, we have confidence in Him!
When it comes to this idea of waiting patiently, I think David had the right idea, but it is a concept that at the time of writing and we see over Psalm 37, 38, 39 and 40 David gains that confidence.
- In Psalm 37 He says rest and wait patiently – don’t fret
- In Psalm 38 He is crying out for help – no soundness in my flesh, my iniquities are over my head, I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly
- In Psalm 39 What do I wait for – he is confused
- In Psalm 40 I waited patiently and
- He heard my cry
- He also brought me out of the pit (picture of someone struggling in a mire – the more you try the worse it gets)
- He has put a new song in my mouth
- Praise to our God
David at this point has known what it is:
- to be on his knees
- flooded with tears
- troubled so that sleep has left him
- no possible way to see out of this mess
- completely at the end of himself
But to have ‘waited’ and seen God come through, it has given him a confidence in God and now he can wait patiently.
There is something about being in difficult and sometimes dark places that teaches us what it is to have ‘waited’ on God.
- It’s no longer a theory or an idea, I have gone beyond tears to a place of He’s all I have left and He has shown Himself faithful
1 John 3:21 (KJV)
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
Most times fear is simply the enemy, or ourself, getting in the way.
- When we understand who Jesus is, what He did and how it is not about our works, we gain a great confidence in His grace.
1 John 5:14 (KJV)
14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us.
So, if we know He hears us and we have confidence in His love and wisdom, we don’t need to fear the outcome!
- How was it possible for Jesus to sleep in the boat in the raging storm while the disciples thought they would die?
- Because He had confidence in who He was! Confidence in His Heavenly Father!
How will we rest and wait patiently in a storm that looks like it might take us out? Confidence in who Jesus is and knowing that He is in our boat!
Oftentimes that confidence is learned in challenges and storms of life.
2. A place of understanding (and not frustration)!
This one is a bit strange, because when I say understanding, I don’t mean we understand everything, but we understand God does.
If we didn’t trust the pilot knows what he is doing flying the plane, we would be too scared to travel by plane.
Commonly when we think someone doesn’t understand our situation, we get frustrated at what we feel is their lack of appropriate action.
Some people, when they wait in life, they wait frustrated and are always in a rush.
- Why hasn’t God done this?
- I wish God would hurry up
- I am just hanging out for this to be over
- Strained for God to ‘do something’ or ‘show them something’
They are constantly wanting to be in the next step, living where they are not.
- They look constipated, but really, they just live frustrated!
But we need to understand God has His own time schedule!
- He does understand and He knows what is best!
Proverbs 3:5 (NKJV)
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
Proverbs 20:24 (NKJV)
24 A man’s steps are of the Lord; How then can a man understand his own way?
God knows the bigger picture and He is in control.
If we were to contrast the first two Kings of Israel with each other it is a very telling story.
- Saul – was handed everything, toughest task we hear about was looking for some donkeys, lost his kingship and died in a field killed by his own soldier.
- David – shepherd, rejected by family, soldier, chased innocently, harassed, hunted, betrayed, lived in caves. Led the nation to one of its greatest heights.
When David says, ‘I waited…’ he meant it.
- David had been through tough times and dark valleys and learned to have a confidence and to wait on God. He understood that God knows best.
Saul seems to have never done those tough times. We find the story in 1 Sam 13:1-15.
Saul out of frustration and fear refuses to trust God and he acts on his own time and loses the kingdom. He refused to wait.
Don’t let challenges and difficult days cause you to lose confidence in God, but instead let them shape it and create a confidence even deeper than before! Wait patiently for Him.
To realize we don’t need to understand everything, will be one of the greatest freedoms in our life. We can’t know what is coming tomorrow.
- Why is rarely an answered question, so to be able to rest and wait patiently, requires us to believe God knows and understands what is best.
We need as Christians to understand, that sometimes we just don’t understand.
- But God does!
- God has His own time and journey for us to take and we need to grasp this so we can learn in the midst of a storm, or valley, or life in general to rest and wait patiently
- It is not a bad thing to have done our best and come to the end of ourselves. That is when God shows up
- We need a confidence in Jesus and His grace, not to live in fear
- We need to be okay with not always understanding and allow God to work in His time
Suggestions for discussion
- Do you now know what it means to wait patiently and rest on God? Can you trust God to do what He knows is best for you?
- Are you in a place of confidence in God?
- Do you realise that we don’t need to understand everything and that we don’t know what is coming tomorrow?