For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
— Psalm 62:1
“In America, you have watches. In Africa, we have time.” I had many opportunities to experience this funny but true aphorism when my wife and I spent a few weeks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to adopt two of our children. We would sometimes spend whole days sitting in a parked car with windows down outside of a government office waiting to receive some required paperwork for our adoption. We didn’t even know for sure if the person who needed to approve our paperwork would show up that day. Perhaps we would have to return the next day to the same building and wait in the parking lot as the equatorial sun beat down on our dated black Toyota sedan. We didn’t have smartphones or other electronic devices to pass the time. We simply sat in our sweat-soaked clothes, holding on to the sure but indistinct hope that we would finally receive the next document we needed to complete our adoption and bring our children home.
When we modern Americans think about this experience in Africa, it sounds so inconvenient. But that’s just because we have become accustomed to our instant-gratification culture. Just a generation or two ago, our parents and grandparents were used to a slower-developing world. Just as African and American cultures are different in this regard, so is God’s kingdom culture not completely consistent with our own. While He sometimes makes haste to bring about His plans, He also enjoys extending His purposes over thousands of years. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).
King David knew God’s kingdom culture requires seasons of great patience. David, who loved God so deeply, understood that at times God seems utterly absent – “my soul waits in silence.”
But God’s seasons of apparent slowness did not deter David’s certain hope in the Rock of Ages. At the end of this Psalm, David composes a stanza that builds with confidence as it crescendos:
Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.
— Psalm 62:11-12
I recently heard Christian author, Pete Scazzero, liken the present COVID-19 crisis to a corporate “dark night of the soul.” “Dark nights of the soul” refer to extended periods of time like Job experienced where God feels withdrawn from us and is not intervening to end the painful stretches of our lives. Right now, we are in a season of waiting on God, in silence, as the culture of Heaven pauses our contemporary quick-fix culture.
But as we wait, we wait for God alone. We do not look for other solutions or comforts! We keep our feet firmly fixed on the only Rock that steadies our soul so that we need not be shaken. We wait with surety that power still belongs to God, and so does His covenant love for all who love Him. We may not know how long the season will last or in what way He will deliver us; in this way, our hope may be indistinct. But our hope is not diminished. Our hope is sure and grows stronger as we remember the culture of our God.
Holy Father, You are powerful. You are faithful. You are good and You do all things well. Thank You for reminding us that Your ways are not our ways. They are far better, even if more complex and drawn out than we imagine. With David, we reaffirm our love for and faith in You. We wait for You alone in silence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D.
Senior Associate, Christian Union Day and Night
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