I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but You have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required. Psalm 40:6
They who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
When I’m anxious or in emotional pain about something, I know it’s not of God. I know He wants me to experience His peace, so I try to do all I can to hurry the process along. I find that my time spent in the Word is less because I know it feeds my soul and more because I think it will earn my way to peace. I talk things through over and over in my head, trying to figure out my next move in my chess game of emotions. “If I do this, then it will yield that and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try this other thing.”
God does not take pleasure in our hearts being filled with turmoil. When we wring our hands with anxiety, He longs for us to be free from the prison in which our minds hold our hearts captive. But nowhere in His Word does He tell us to do all we can to fix it to make it go away. I believe we confuse God’s intentions with our own. We want our pain to stop. God wants our pain to draw us closer to Him. And He’s willing to allow us to stay in that holding pattern for as long as it takes for Him to do the work He wants done.
I don’t like to wait for relief. I’m highly impatient, and I’m also a fixer. They say in relationships, when a woman shares her emotions, it’s more to be heard and validated and less for her spouse to fix the problem. Not so with me. If I’m sharing the pain of my heart with my husband, I’m not doing it because I like the sound of my own laments. I want him to help me fix it. I have no time for a pat on the back and a “there, there.”
In Psalm 40, David says he waited patiently for the Lord then the Lord inclined to him and heard his cry. He later says that God doesn’t delight in offerings and sacrifice. What does that mean—especially, as one commentator points out, during a time in the Old Testament when people lived under the dispensation of the law? Just a number of centuries before, God had delivered a list of dos and don’ts through Moses to the Israelites. Later in Leviticus, God takes special care to dictate how to atone for when, not if, His people break His laws. And to say God got specific is an understatement. Now David says that God doesn’t delight in sacrifice and offerings?
My friends, God has always been and is now only after our hearts. David says that God doesn’t delight in our sacrifice and offering, but He has given us an open ear. He doesn’t want our works. He wants us to curl up on His lap and pour out our hearts to Him. He wants us—and only us. David is saying that if it’s going to come down to a bunch of rituals to check off boxes or our hearts drawn close to Him in relationship, God will choose our hearts—every time. But we are not able to draw close to Him on our own, and we certainly can’t rush it.
You know how children can be when they want dessert. They’d skip over the healthy meal that’s going to provide nutrition to their growing bodies just to get to the good part. Yet we, as parents, know they need the healthy meal first. That’s how they grow. That’s what’s best. God is the same way with us. Of course He wants to bless us with joy and peace. But He also knows we need the trials first because that’s where the growth occurs. Like our impatient children eagerly anticipating the cupcake, we need to wait.
There’s nothing we can do in our own power. We can’t draw ourselves closer to God outside of the Holy Spirit. We don’t have it in us. It is God who does the drawing—it is we who are drawn. Read Isaiah 40 again. Nowhere does it say David did anything to get himself out of whatever predicament He was in. He didn’t say he went to church and prayed more often. He didn’t say he gave more of his money or time. He mentioned no efforts of his own. David says that God draws us up out of the miry bog. He sets our feet upon the rock, making our steps secure. He puts a new song of praise in our mouths so that others will see, have a reverent fear of our God, and put their trust in Him. We don’t have a hand in that other than surrendering and allowing Him to do it.
This may be frustrating for you to read. I have a feeling I’m not the only fixer. I think a lot of us are like that. Pain and heartache are uncomfortable, and we just want it to stop. But if we remember how lost we are in our own sin and lost in our own selfishness and arrogance, we would be wise to thank God profusely for His grace and faithfulness to draw us in His own timing. Because if our joy, peace, and relief from what ails us were dependent solely upon our efforts, we might as well get comfortable with the pain.
God is our refuge and strength. It is in Him, through Him, and by waiting on Him that we experience the abundant life He so graciously allows us to live.
Praise God for His steadfast, never-ending, all-consuming, life-sustaining, abundant love!
~ Written by Bridget Depew