The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.
For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud,
be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.
Do not turn your servant away in anger,
you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!
If my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will take me up.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.
Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries,
for false witnesses have risen against me,
and they are breathing out violence.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (New Revised Standard Version)
The Christian season of Lent is a time of waiting…. Believers patiently wait for Easter and the resurrection of the Lord. But there must be a crucifixion before there is a resurrection. There must be suffering before there is glory. Truncating the process of spiritual development, including the hard circumstances of life, will stunt our growth.
So, we need to wait for the Lord….
But, dang it, waiting is hard! Patience is especially difficult whenever we are experiencing hardship and difficulty. We already know that praying for patience is problematic; we end up getting plenty of opportunities to exercise patience and may feel like we’re worse off than before. So, what do we do?
The way to wait patiently is through hope. And hope is a reality which needs to be continually fortified.
Whatever we long to see realized…
the return of a wayward son or daughter…
revitalization and revival within the church…
courage to face the high wall of adversity…
protection and deliverance from mean-spirited people…
an end to pandemic…
freedom from racism and injustice…
healing from chronic pain…
enough finances to make our budget budge…
whatever the situation we long for, patience is to be our breakfast every morning to help us through each day, living one day at a time, putting one foot forward.
Apart from patience, faith, and hope in God, we will lose our spiritual zeal and settle for a mediocre existence with tepid relationships and lukewarm engagement of the world.
God desires more for us…
than simply having a marriage in which two people only exist under the same roof…
for church to be more than buildings, budgets, and butts in the pews…
for our work to be more than a necessary evil to make a living…
for our lives to be more than fear, worry, and anxiety…
for much more than broken dreams, messed up relationships, and situations gone sideways.
The confident expectation of hope neither eliminates trouble from our lives nor magically makes everything better.
Deep faith, like the psalmist expressed, does not change or alter reality – but it does change us.
The way in which we view and handle our troubles is understood differently through the filter of faith and the lens of hope.
The mammoth adversity in our lives is no longer feared because of settled trust in God; the danger which lurks about has no teeth to hold us when we are secure in the Lord.
The actions believers take toward God amidst the fallen nature of this world are to wait and hope, to be strong and take courage. It is precisely when we are totally discombobulated that faith and confident expectation kick in and take effect.
Our faith leads us to confess:
I believe the Lord is the Light which keeps me safe and illumines my path.
I believe the Lord is my Fortress, a castle to protect me.
I believe the Lord is an Army surrounding me, defending my life.
I believe the Lord is the Rock of my salvation, keeping me secure.
I believe the Lord is a Parent who holds me close and does not let go.
I believe the Lord is the right and good Judge, always extending grace and mercy to me.
I believe the Lord is Healer, oftentimes healing me from the need to be healed.
I have confidence and courage to engage the world, knowing God has my back.
I have confidence God will handle malevolent persons, systemic evil, and sinister forces on my behalf.
I have confidence I can approach God, since God’s character is always gracious and loving.
I have confidence to pray with authority, understanding God is the Sovereign of the universe.
I have confidence better days are ahead, that the Christ is soon coming.
I have confidence God bends to attentively listen to me praying.
I have confidence God is neither angry at me nor hidden from me.
I have confidence God shall lead me, guide me, and teach me in the way I ought to go.
I have confidence knowing that God has my best interests in mind.
Rather than losing heart, we can be strengthened with solid theology. Making daily affirmations of faith, persevering in hope, and performing small acts of love are our daily tasks while we wait and watch….
Almighty and everlasting God, the One who sees, knows, and protects, by the power of your Holy Spirit, you are refining us, purifying our discipleship, pulling us into following Jesus in this scary new world of uncertainty. Grant us mercy and grace to trust you more deeply, for the only secure place is with you, our light and our salvation, the stronghold of our life. We pray in the name of Jesus, the first-born of your new creation, and our hope, our life. Amen.