Impatience – we never seem to escape it! It’s only a matter of how often we are grappling with it and what sets it in motion. We don’t like to wait on much of anything oftentimes and yet we have more than a few opportunities to practice learning how to wait.
Recent months have maybe stirred more impatience than usual as our lives have been disrupted by so many things and our choices have been more limited. We have all learned some things in the process, but not happily much of the time.
Many of us are familiar with how often scripture exhorts us to wait. That fact alone points to God’s value in waiting whether or not we like or even recognize it. The key is what we do in the midst of waiting.
Today I was reading a devotional focused on a verse from the Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk (not one you likely read with any frequency). Consider what this prophet is saying:
“I will stand my watch
And set myself on the rampart,
And watch to see what He will say to me,
And what I will answer when I am corrected.”
Habakkuk 2:1 (NKJV)
Clearly the prophet is modeling what waiting looks like. He stood his watch, and on a rampart, no less. I love the word picture of the meaning of rampart – “a defensive wall of a castle or walled city, having a broad top with a walkway and typically a stone parapet.”
But it gets more precise when he says he is watching to see what He (God) will say to him AND how he will respond when he is corrected. Those lines speak volumes about the character of this prophet of old.
In the midst of our waiting are we watching to see what God says or are we frantically running around in circles trying to make something happen to shorten or halt the waiting?
This verse challenges me in my own waiting during this season. There has been far more waiting than the obvious waiting impacting us all related to the pandemic and the waiting has been torturous at points. Waiting on biopsy reports, waiting during surgery of a loved one, waiting in the midst of treatment, waiting in the midst of recovery, and more.
The devotional focused on this verse I barely noticed in times past reading through this prophet of the Old Testament is A Basket of Summer Fruit by Susannah Spurgeon. Ever since I read her biography featured in a recent post here, I have been seeking to linger with the insight and wisdom found not only in Charles Spurgeon, but also his wife, Susannah.
Let me share part of her reflection on this verse:
“Are any of my readers in such deep trouble that all around them looks black, and thick, and threatening, as did that notable midnight sky? (Earlier she writes of awakening from sleep, going to her window and observing a sky that was “dark and heavy, not a star was to be seen.”)
Let me beg you to watch to see what He will say unto you. If you watch with real desire to hear and obey, you will certainly see the light of His love parting the densest gloom, and tokens of His mighty power appearing to reassure your fainting spirit.
There are no clouds so thick, that they can obscure His glorious light if He bids it shine; there are no troubles so black and appalling that they can fright the soul from beholding the brightness of His grace and truth when He reveals them; and the feeblest of His children may always trust Him to fulfill that blessed promise in His Word, “I will make darkness light before them. (Isaiah 42:16)”
As you consider her words, consider her life. She had experienced many trials and lived with a physical condition that caused her great pain and often prevented her from traveling with her husband as he went about preaching or retreated to study. At the time she wrote this, she was dealing with life without Charles at her side because he had died.
As she continues to exhort her readers, listen to her wisdom and truth:
“You may not be able to see your way on earth; but turn your eyes to Heaven, and gaze long and lovingly there. You do not need to see the path down below because He has said He will guide you and you know the darkness and the light are both alike to Him. Put your hand in His, and trust Him…”
“Remember, too, that He is watching for you to watch.”
How often it is that those who have gone before us leave a legacy in their lives and words to steadily point the way when our vision is blurred with tears or confusion and the enemy of our souls would have us believe that God is far off and unaffected by our situation.
He is waiting for us to watch.
That is what faith looks like!