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Lent reflection: The waiting game

4.1. 2017 Posted By: The Mennonite 124 Times read

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.

     Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,
    so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than those who watch for the morning,
    more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!

    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel
    from all its iniquities.

Psalm 130 (NRSV)

Lent is a season of waiting.

This can be a problem since most of us don’t like to wait.

Because of our aversion to waiting we pick the shortest line at the grocery store. When choosing which goods and services to buy the time involved is almost as important as the price. We get impatient when traffic is backed up, when the doctor can’t see us right this minute or when the internet takes more than a second or two to load our favorite website.

No wonder then, as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers sing, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

Life however has the tendency to force us to wait whether we like it or not. Such seems to be the situation of the Psalmist in Psalm 130. Out of one of the deep and difficult moments of life, the Psalmist cries out to God. We don’t know what kind of situation the Psalmist is dealing with. It might be stress of the emotional, psychological, physical, or social kind; it’s not clear.

What is clear is that the Psalmist has confidence that God is always listening.

According to the Psalmist, no deepness is too deep that God cannot hear our cries. Even those deep dark places that we dig ourselves into, those places of our “iniquities,” as the Psalmist puts it, are not so deep that our cries cannot be heard. God is forgiving. God’s hesed, or steadfast love, will not waver.

With this confidence, the Psalmist waits.

Note what the Psalmist does not ask for. The Psalmist doesn’t ask God for answers. There is no request for some sort of sign that things will be alright. Remarkably the Psalmist doesn’t even ask for a response or for God to do anything. The Psalmist is able to rest in the knowledge that God is listening. From the midst of the depths, the promise of God’s presence is enough.

When we look out at the people in our world and in our churches, we see those who like the Psalmist are crying out from the depths: Victims of violence, crime and injustices of all sorts. Parents awaiting the return of their prodigal children. The chronically ill, those who experience sudden loss and those who fear the future. This is sadly a long list.

Unlike the Psalmist we do want a sign. We want a response or for God to just do something. While God does sometimes respond in these ways, more often it seems we are left with nothing to do but wait. As we sit in these moments of waiting, the Psalmist reminds us that sometimes all we have is God’s presence. This, in and of itself, is enough. God hears us, cares for us and promises to never abandon us.

The Christian tradition teaches us that one day God will do something. All the wrongs that have ever been committed will be righted and all the pain and weeping we have suffered will be no more. Until then, we wait.

In this season of Lent, where we wait for the death and resurrection of our Lord, may we also look ahead and trust that Jesus will once again fulfill our waiting. The God who raised Jesus from the grave will restore, refresh and renew this broken world. Until that day, which we watch for with an eagerness like those who wait for the morning light, we wait with the comfort that God is waiting with us.

Todd Gusler is the pastor of Rossmere Mennonite Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Northern Michigan, he now resides with his wife and children in Lancaster.

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