Summary: “There is so much we still don’t know about this virus,” says a researcher. “Until we have better data, we’re just going to have a lot of uncertainty.” The world is temporarily closed. But this is not God's Waiting Room. Psalm 13.
Psalms 13 – GOD’S “WAITING ROOM”?
The World is Temporarily Closed. Image by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash
Psalm 13:1 “O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?”
THE WORLD IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED
The Covid 19 virus continues to spread with lockdowns and locked borders – the new normal. Around 250 million people have been infected, and 1.75 million have died.
Is it here to stay? Will we develop a lasting immunity? Is this going to be an ongoing event? What will happen in winter? What will happen in 2021?
“There is so much we still don’t know about this virus,” says a researcher. “Until we have better data, we’re just going to have a lot of uncertainty.” The world is temporarily closed.
“How long, O Lord?” Seems like a good prayer.
Ever prayed like this. I can’t say that I have ever felt like I have been forgotten by the Lord. Sometimes it’s me that has moved, not Him. In Psalm 13, David appears to be weary of waiting for God to act. His cry has echoed across the centuries and still receives voice today, “How long?” Oh, for wings rather than anchors. How long?
QUALITY OF LIFE
Sometimes as a Chaplain I hear people describe the Aged Care Centre where I minister as “God’s Waiting Room”. It presupposes that God no longer has a purpose for the people here and that we are all just waiting to die. I detest this term. It is devoid of hope and makes a mockery of the “quality of life” people can experience at any age and with any disability. It implies there is no quality of life because of age or disability. This is patently untrue.
A NEW KIND OF NORMAL
When his wife got sick, one Pastor even wrote a book called “In God’s Waiting Room”. It wasn’t his wife he described as in God’s waiting room but him.
Imagine if we described marriage as “God’s waiting room” “I, take thee, to have and to hold and I’ll just have to put up with it until something happens and things turn from better to worse, from richer to poorer, from health to sickness, or anything else that happens that we don’t like. We’ll just have to be in God’s waiting room and pray for til death do us part.” Life was not intended to be lived with such pessimism.
I have seen the most beautiful relationships in marriage succeed despite dementia, strokes and disabilities. It is where patience and love can coalesce in the purposes of God. Not so much “How long?” but “Life is different. How do I deal with this new kind of normal?” This is true for Covid 19 and life.
Don’t misunderstand. We all feel at times that we are in God’s waiting room and we say, “How long, O Lord”, not waiting for death but for our circumstances to change. Sometimes it is not our circumstances that need to change but our response to our circumstances. David says,
“How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?”
David has literal enemies who want him dead but his enemies appear firstly to be the enemies of the soul – anguish and sorrow. He’s weary and impatient for life to work for him instead of against him. Negative thinking is beginning to rule his life. His imagination and impatience have begun to eat away at his hope.
At least he’s honest with God. Honest venting is a good way to pray at times but it’s not a good place to live. Matthew 6:27 (NLT2) says, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
Philippians 4:8 (NLT2) says “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This is not ignoring what is true but seeking to see what is true from the point of view of faith in an almighty God with whom we have a relationship.
By the end of the Psalm David still doesn’t have God’s intervention but He knows that God has heard his prayer. That changes everything. A new kind of normal filled with faith and the promises of God. God has not forgotten or forsaken him.
Joshua 1:9 (NLT2) says “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”
2 Corinthians 4:8-17 (NLT2) Paul talks about the persecution of Christians. He did not, however, think he was in God’s waiting room, except in the sense that troubles would soon pass and faith lasts forever. He says, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down but never abandoned by God.