I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. - Psalm 40:1
It isn’t just people who try our patience. Situations do it too. We find ourselves in places we don’t want to be, doing things we have no desire to do, in circumstances we don’t want to embrace, and there’s little or nothing we can do about it. So we fume and fester, and our frustrations intensify.
David knew all about this. He was God’s man, but he spent far too much time on the run from his enemies. The throne was his by right, but the wilderness was where he spent many a night (see 1 Sam. 16:13; 18:1–24:22). He said, “Troubles surround me—too many to count! They pile up so high I can’t see my way out. They are more numerous than the hairs on my head. I have lost all my courage. Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Ps. 40:12-13). It is not surprising that he turned to the Lord for help, and it is perfectly understandable that he wanted it “quickly.” Men usually want solutions to be delivered at once, if not sooner. But note how David began this Psalm. “I waited patiently for the Lord” (40:1). His natural desire for quick solutions had been tempered by long experience of the way God works. David’s natural desire for a quick answer was tempered by a willingness to “wait patiently.” He knew from previous experience that it was only a matter of time before he could once again testify, “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along” (40:2).
God is not the God of the quick fix. Neither is he the Lord of the instant. He takes his time growing an oak from an acorn and allows the long winter to prepare the earth for the warmth of spring. But it is precisely the promise of spring that makes the winter more palatable, and it is the certainty that an oak lies hidden within the acorn that makes it bearable to wait for the tree to grow.
Why, we wonder, does God take his time? No doubt his reasons are many and profound, but perhaps it is because we can only appreciate how solid is the rock he provides when we have thoroughly experienced the mud and the mire.
For Further Study: Psalm 40
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