Wait in hope for the Lord
When asked if I’d like to take part in this series I of course said yes! Full disclosure I had no prior knowledge of the Psalms, and so chose the penultimate Psalm of the series, for a couple reasons. One, the beard and two because it gave me plenty of time to prepare. Or so I thought!
Then I got an email reminding me of the date that my video would need to be submitted, however it mentioned a different Psalm and was far earlier than I had originally agreed! God stepped in and gave me an opportunity to share a word I could relate to in my life, and in doing so gives me a chance to hear from someone better suited to preach on the Psalm I originally chose.
When the time came to record the video I did what I was pretty happy with and submitted it only to learn I'd not followed the guidelines and it would need to be redone. I was really focused on Hope within the Psalm but wound up getting a word from God that this was about the work he's done in the Waiting in my life. The resubmitted version is raw and was recorded at 11pm, and I hope it isn't too disjointed but it was certainly a message for me.
Octavius Winslow a 19th century evangelical pastor in both England and the USA said of Psalm 130 -
Like the sun, it dawns veiled in cloud, it sets bathed in splendour; it opens with soul depth, it closes with soul height. Redemption from all iniquity! It baffles the most descriptive language, and distances the highest measurement. The most vivid imagination faints in conceiving it, the most glowing image fails in portraying it, and faith droops her wing in the bold attempt to scale its summit. "He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities." The verse is a word painting of man restored, and of Paradise regained.
Oh to have such masterful understanding and powerful faith as this! Sadly I am no Octavius Winslow. I am still in the infancy of my journey but when I read this I’m reminded we are living in a broken World, We still struggle through the various trials, doubts, depressions, and persecutions day by day, but we have hope in the Promise of God’s salvation, that He will eventually pull us out of it.
The Psalm gives us 4 steps to use during these times.
We ask for God’s help.
We acknowledge God’s forgiveness, His mercy.
We assume a posture of faith and wait patiently for him to deliver on His promises.
We rejoice in the promise of the Lord’s redemption.
At the end of last year before I had a relationship with Jesus, before I knew of his love and faithfulness, I cried out from the depths of a situation I was in. I did this from a place of despair and without hope. One of the prayers I said was to be rescued from the situation I was in. It's a situation I'd been in before and I wondered if it wasn't something I just couldn't escape or hope for better. A song called Rescue Story by Zach Williams perfectly describes the emotions and experience I went through (and no I won’t sing it) – “There I was empty handed, Crying out from the pit of my despair. There you were in the shadows, Holding out your hand you met me there. And now, where would I be without You? Where would I be, Jesus?” Those are just the opening lines, I would love you to look it up and have a listen today to the song in its fullness.
I wonder, what situation are we in that we should ask for God’s mercy, or his forgiveness? Do we merely Hope for the Lord to answer our prayer or do we believe, and know him to answer our prayers? Have you any experiences you can look back on and remember when God has pulled you through? And what are we doing in the wait? Romans 12:12 says “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
What strikes me most about Psalm 130 is the contrast between the bottom has fallen out of my life to having no doubt about it! Where does David’s hope come from and how can we get some of that?
Over the past few weeks I’ve been asking “What does having faith and trusting the Lord look like in practical terms when I'm waiting?” I believe my question comes from a place of not yet knowing all of God’s promises, and I was reminded to put my hope in His word. I was lead to the following verses and would love to share them with you –
Romans 8:18 “What we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal.”
James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who endures trials.”
Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”
Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.”
Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Back to my story and in no time at all God answered me, though not in the way I would have necessarily wished. God didn’t take me out of the situation. God didn’t remove the obstacles be they people or circumstance. God began to change me. And though I am still very much in the same season going on nine months now I am reminded that Joseph waited 13 years. Abraham waited 25 years. Moses waited 40 years. Jesus waiting 30 years. So if God is making me wait, I’m in good company!
I’ve read that Hope in God calls us to forsake all of other hopes: hope in our performance, hope in our abilities, hope in our families and friends, hope in future prospects for a good life, hope in what we do for God. With hindsight I can look back over my forty plus years as a non-believer and see exactly where my help, where my strength came from.
"Let others, therefore, wait upon the world, wait for the world; I, O God, will wait upon thee, for thee, seeing I find more true contentment in this waiting than all the world can give me in enjoying; for how can I doubt of receiving reward by my waiting for thee when my waiting for thee is itself the reward of my waiting upon thee?” --Sir Richard Baker
In the Bible the word Hope was synonymous with certainty. In my studying for this message I came across this statement - “There is no hope, but in God. It is our faith that is counted unto us as righteousness. Hope in the Lord, and He shall never fail you.”
And Charles Spurgeon (thank you Johnny) said “We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously he once waited for us.”
I believe Psalm 131 NIV speaks of our posture in the waiting.
The Psalm begins with “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty;” That is something that has undeniably been the biggest change in me. I have given up on seeking affirmation from men, from popularity or status.
And the Psalm ends with “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and for evermore.” For evermore, does that seem daunting or even challenging or does that light a fire in you? I wonder how are we to consistently live our life in hope?
I’ve lost count of the car journeys spent sobbing whilst praying to the Lord. You might have seen me during the Christmas service at St Peters with tears streaming down my cheeks. I’ve likened those tears to the Living Water eroding the stone walls from around my heart.
Robert Hawker said “It is a paradox to men of the world, but the fact is undeniable; that the soul when most humble is most bold; he that is most depressed, is most exalted; most empty, and yet most full. For he that hath the lowest views of his own merit, hath the highest views of Christ.”
I find such comfort in those words and hope that in whatever circumstance or season you are currently in you do to.