Psalm 40:1,13,17 (NIV) 1 I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. 13 Be pleased to save me, Lord; come quickly, Lord, to help me. 17 But as for me, I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; you are my God, do not delay.
Two times in the last few days, I greeted someone saying, “Hey, how are you?” You know that standard greeting we give each other. Both times I heard, “Oh, I’m good.” Hearing how they said it, I responded, “Um, I don’t believe you. What’s up?” Then the truth, the pain, the hurt came out.
So, how are you? Really, how are you? “Oh, I’m good” is our standard answer even if we aren’t good. Maybe you ARE good. Maybe for you, life is A+ Awesome right now! Maybe you just went on the best Christmas ever where the family hugged and loved on each other and there wasn’t a moment of bickering. It’s as if the birds were chirping sweet songs of happy whenever your children or siblings spoke. Maybe life IS great for you. You just met the man who might be the one, or you just met a girl who might be the future MRS. YOU! Or maybe you rediscovered yet another reason why you are madly, passionately in love with your spouse. Maybe life IS great for you. You got promoted at work, your colleagues love and admire you, your boss treats you with respect or you’re the boss and your employees fulfill your every expectation.
Is that you? Is life awesome? Is your life awesome? Like someone should write a book about you because all you do is win, win, win at life. Okay, maybe that’s not you. Far from it.
What hurt are you hiding? What is lacking in your life?
What are you waiting for God to do, or heal, or help in your life?
Waiting on God is hard. Can we be fully honest for a moment? Let’s take off the I’m-a-Christian-so-I-need-to-appear-to-be-perfect mask for a moment. When you wear a mask that fakes “everything’s alright” when it’s not alright, when you wear a mask you can’t see God clearly. You can’t see what God at work for you. There are times when waiting on God is downright difficult and sometimes seems a bit mean. God has the means, He has the ability to do something. So why doesn’t He? Why does He make you wait? He’s powerful! He’s almighty! This book, this Bible is full of story after story after story of God coming through, of God showing up...but here you are waiting. Waiting on God. Waiting is awful, zero fun.
What are you waiting on God to do?
Someone who knows what it’s like to wait, to wait on God, to wait on his promise of deliverance is King David. David was a man after God’s own heart. God Himself described David that way and yet, many times, David was left waiting, wondering when God would deliver and restore him.
King David had it all. Notice the past tense of that verb. Had. He had it all. He was hand-picked by God Himself to be the king of Israel. He had power. He had wealth. He had fame. He had it all. Life was good. Life was actually incredible for him. He was truly winning at life.
But then, suddenly, it was all ripped away from him. He lost it all. He lost the crown and his kingdom to his own son who was trying to kill him. The army that won him so much power and military victories was now hunting him like a dog. No longer did he live in luxury in the palace drinking from golden goblets and eating the finest meals until he nearly puked. Now he slithered and hid in a dirty cave eating anything that crawled along the ground to give his weakened, wearied body at least the smallest taste of nourishment. Life was no longer good. It was incredibly bad. And it showed no signs of getting any better. Where was God?
From the depths of despair, inches from death, on the brink of malnourishment hiding and sleeping and even relieving himself in a cave so no one discovered him, David cried out. But he didn’t cry out against God. He cried out to God. He waited for redemption. Against all odds, against all hope, David waited and trusted God was still in control; God was still active.
“Be pleased to save me, LORD; come quickly, LORD, to help me. You are my Help and my Deliverer; You are my God, do not delay.” (Psalm 40:13,17) In David’s mind, God was delaying. God wasn’t visual in His deliverance but David still trusted the Lord was his Help and Deliverer. That’s key! God’s plan was bigger than David’s perception. David knew when you don’t see God in action, that doesn’t mean God is inactive.
Teri Horton is a retired female truck driver. After years of crisscrossing the country riding 18 wheels, Teri finally called it quits. Bored as a retiree with little money, she took up the hobby of window shopping at thrift stores to pass the time. If she happened to find a cheap item she like, she got it. One day she spotted a large canvass that had a bunch of random squiggly paint lines on it. She thought it was ugly and funny looking and bought it to throw darts at it with her friend who needed some cheering up.
The thrift store priced it at $8 but Teri offered $5. Teri took it home and showed it to a friend telling her what the plan was for it. Her friend looked more closely and said, “You very well may have a Jackson Pollock on your hands.” And YOU may very well be asking yourself right now who in the world is Jackson Pollock. Well, apparently he is considered a master of abstract expressionism. Teri’s nearly unwanted large piece of fabric with random squiggly paint lines is worth a stunning $50 million!
Now there are two teaching points to this story. Teri had no idea what she had. She had no idea her life was about to change. She didn’t sense that. She didn’t feel that. She didn’t know what God was up to.
That’s true in our own lives too. When you don’t feel God at work, that doesn’t mean He isn’t working. When you wonder, “What is God up to? Why isn’t He helping me or delivering me?” It doesn’t mean God is ignoring you. He’s active. Always active. For you. You just might not see what He is doing behinds the scenes for you, but He’s always, forever at work for you.
When I have those times in my life when I don’t get it, when I don’t get what God is doing and when it seems like God isn’t doing and isn’t active, there are two passages I cling to that renew my confidence in God’s plan and His unseen work for my life. “My Father is always at His work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17) Jesus assures us that He and the Father in heaven, never-ever-ever take time away from watching over us and caring for us. That truth makes this second passage just that much more beautiful and comforting. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
There is no reason to ever lose hope in the Lord! There is no reason to fear that deliverance is not coming. Even when it seems like God is not active, it means He is planning something so big you can’t perceive it. He plans to prosper you! That doesn’t mean you’ll buy the next discarded Jackson Pollock masterpiece for $5 at Goodwill. It doesn’t mean you’ll buy an old antique frame at a garage sale and discover inside one of the original 200 reprints of the constitution worth $2.4 million. Yup, that happened too! It’s not likely that God is planning that for you. He prospers you in something far more valuable. With His goodness! In His mercy! Sounded by His protection! Poured full of His amazing love! Those are worth far more than the 10 million dollars of gold coins a couple in California found buried in their backyard while walking their dog. Although I’m guessing none of us would turn that down. Gold coins, a copy of the constitution and an ugly but expensive Jackson Pollock painting won’t pay off the debt you owe the devil.
Jesus can. And Jesus did! Worth far more than the most expensive treasure you can find is the treasure of Jesus’ body and blood given freely to you from His cross. And it’s not hidden. It’s not kept from you. His forgiveness is given from above. It’s given to you in love. Hope is not lost; it’s found in Christ. This is a truth you already have, don’t devalue Him. Don’t toss Jesus in the corner of your life like that Jackson Pollock painting was tossed in a thrift store corner. I mentioned there were two teaching truths from that story. We already celebrated with Teri Horton how she discovered the value of what she had. But our heart breaks with that poor shop owner who didn’t know that he possessed. He had an original Jackson Pollock worth $50 million but he devalued it and sold it for $5.
You have Christ. You have the Almighty in your heart, in your life. Don’t devalue Him. Don’t discard Him. Don’t sell Him off for cheap thrills or the worthless lies of the devil. Don’t toss Him aside as inactive or incapable when life gets difficult. You already have all you need for this life, for any pain, for any peril, for any problem, for anything. It’s Christ. It’s Jesus! When you realize you already have the solution to any problem, it gives you confidence to wait on Jesus, on His deliverance and His peace.
David realized what he had as he hid in that cave. It wasn’t money or wealth. It was something far more valuable. He had the Lord on His side and in His heart. “I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.” (Psalm 40:1) Though David was crushed by pressures and perils all around Him, he kept His confidence in the Lord’s almighty power and deliverance. Even though he couldn’t see God working, He knew that when God seems inactive, it means his plan is bigger than our perception.
Wait patiently for the Lord. Wait on His deliverance. Wait on Him to reveal what he’s been planning for you. Even when you are crushed on every side by the pressures of this world, you have hope, you have peace in Jesus.
Some years ago, the atomic submarine The Threasher disappeared in the depths of the ocean. It was designed with a system of oxygen pressure within the submarine to allow it to go down to a certain depth in the ocean. It was assumed that the submarine went too deep and was lost. Some years after it disappeared, because of new technology, another submarine went into the area where The Threasher disappeared. This new sub was smaller, thick-plated, thick-glassed, highly pressured and capable of going much deeper than The Threasher.
The crew in this little sub discovered The Threasher and it was a strange sight. They found that it exploded in on itself—really imploded—and this hunk of steel was crushed like a thin piece of paper. The pressure of all the weight of ocean water above it crushed the submarine completely flat. The pressure within the sub was obviously not able to withstand the pressure outside it and so it collapsed upon itself. But there was something surprising about this whole situation. Around the crushed Threasher, there were sea creatures—all sorts of seas creatures. They had big eyes, their skin was very thin and yet they were swimming all around The Threasher in the same environment, the same pressure that had crushed this steel machine. How could these sea creatures survive in the inhospitable setting of that pressure? Here’s why. The natural pressure inside these sea creatures was opposite and equal to the pressure pressing on them. What was inside of them counteracted the pressure pressing forcefully on them.
Now that’s a parable for us! That’s the only way you able to survive and thrive within the inhospitable environment around you, pressing down and pressuring upon you is by being filled from within. The only way to avoid being crushed by the pressure of this sinful world is for you to be fully filled up with Christ. Christ is in your heart. Jesus is counteracting the pressures of this world so you are not crushed. You are filled. You are filled with Christ so you are filled with hope. So wait. Wait patiently for the Lord and His deliverance. Amen.