Steve Schantz – April 25th, 2020
1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. 6 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. 7 On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. 8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. 10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them. 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. For you will render to a man according to his work. (ESV)
Whistle While You Work was a tune I heard often growing up in our home. Recently I was reminded that this children’s song dates back to the original Disney Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937. The thought behind the music suggests that we would all be better off practicing this particular brand of subliminal multitasking.
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom
Is someone that you love
And soon you’ll find
You’re dancing to the tune
When hearts are high the time will fly
So whistle while you work
I’d like to suggest that beneath this thought premise lies a deeper scriptural truth that can serve us well during the waiting period we find ourselves in.
The COVID-19 crisis has disturbed our world in a way that has all of us waiting. Some are waiting for the day when they feel safe sending their children back to school. Others wait anxiously to return to their job, if it still exists. Some wait for a stimulus or unemployment check. Others are waiting to gather with loved ones and families including our church family. We wait for the freedom to visit our favorite restaurants, coffee shops, and businesses. We are waiting for surgeries or dental visits or a new contact prescription not deemed essential in the moment.
And then there are those waiting intensely for test results, or for a family member to recover. Just this evening we learned that Gel Enerio’s sister Rose Iwaniak in New Jersey has tested positive for the virus and we lift them up in prayer. Some families are waiting to grieve together. They await a time of much needed closure and shared memories of a loved one who has died during this pandemic. We wait and wonder how long the quarantine will last? We wait. Waiting is never easy. Even Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers know that “waiting is the hardest part.” (1981)
Because we live in a culture of immediacy, we aren’t well accustomed to waiting. Our technological advancement have pushed us to be a less patient people. When you combine that with our Do-It-Yourself fixer-upper mentality, (present company included), we find it hard to wait and depend on anyone or anything outside of our own control. As John Piper recently shared, “the same sovereignty that could stop the coronavirus, yet doesn’t, is the very sovereignty that sustains the soul in it.” God could stop this pandemic at any time, but in His mysterious wisdom chooses to let us wait for His purposes. So how do we wait well?
If we miss the goodness of God’s intent through the waiting we will fail to yield to an important tool he uses to refine us and to grow us. There is always purpose in waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited 75 years for their promised son. Israel waited 420 years for deliverance from Egypt, then another 40 years before they could enter the Promised Land. God’s people waited generation after generation for the Messiah, and the church now awaits Christ’s return. The question “How Long?” is a question that hovers over many of the Psalms.
In the waiting, here’s the key question: What does it look like to wait in a way that makes us a participant in what God is doing rather than someone who struggles against the wait and His purposes in it?
God’s Word for those Who Wait
Some scholars believe that David may have authored Psalm 62 while he faced the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Though we can’t be certain of the exact experience that helped forge David’s powerful words, we know that he faced many formidable enemies during his lifetime. The Philistine Goliath, his own King and mentor Saul, his son Absalom, and the power of sin within his own flesh. So David’s words in Psalm 62 can be of great encouragement to us in the waiting as we face an invisible stronghold of the enemy. COVID-19 has been named the invisible enemy by our National leaders in government and Health Services. It is life-threatening and threatening our very way of life, but we also face the enemies of our doubts and fears that attack our minds.
What does David do when he is surrounded by enemies as expressed in this Psalm? He does something so counter-intuitive to us as modern Americans. He stops. He ceases action. He goes silent. He waits.
62:1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
In the midst of the chaos and threats that surround him, David choses a calm composure and a silent waiting based on submission to his God. This isn’t a time for grumbling or complaining. He isn’t plotting and scheming as the chapter opens. Rather he is waiting on the only source of hope that he knows. He says his waiting is in God alone. Charles Haddon Spurgeon gave quite a bit of attention to prayer, faith, and the patience of the saints in his sermons.
“Then Faith lays hold upon God, and she waits, Patience standing by her side, knowing that the windows of heaven, however fast they may be closed, will open soon, and God’s right hand will scatter his liberality upon waiting souls. So Faith waits and watches, and waits and watches again.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Praying & Waiting, Sermon No. 596 , Oct. 23rd, 1864)
Spurgeon describes this kind of waiting as a possession of the soul until deliverance comes. He preached that to wait on God is worship. This posture of waiting is to give up the notion that we can do anything to save ourselves. What does it look like for us to wait in submissive silence for deliverance in the midst of a global pandemic? In looking for answers from this psalm, we are led to a couple of important questions:
Who do we Trust?
I can only wait quietly when I believe that it will not be my own voice that solves the problem, but rather trust in the One I wait upon. We can wait with assurance upon God because He is our rock (vs. 2, 6), our salvation (vs. 2, 6), our fortress (vs. 2, 6), our refuge (vs. 7, 8). He is all powerful (vs. 11) and possesses steadfast love (vs. 11).
We put our trust in Him because He alone is our greatest hope and the only perfectly trustworthy one. Our ultimate hope in the waiting doesn’t come from our own plans, our googled information, our government, our medical experts, our economists, or even our first responders as important as these institutions and people surely are. Our hope is in our Sovereign Loving God. He alone can deliver from us from any enemy.
This leads us to another question that begs to be asked: What are we waiting for? A return to what we consider normal? Are we waiting for health, ease, and comfort? There is something at the end of our waiting. As we look to the counsel of Scripture for guidance, it appears that the process of waiting is as important as the end result to God.
Author, Pastor, and counselor Dr. Paul David Tripp puts it this way, “Waiting is not about what you get at the end; it’s about what you become as you wait…It’s vital to understand that waiting isn’t an interruption of God’s plan. It is his plan. And you can know this as well: the Lord who’s called you to wait is with you in your wait. He hasn’t gone off to do something else, like the doctor you’re waiting to see. No, God is near, and he provides for you all that you need to be able to wait.” https://www.paultripp.com/articles/posts/gods-will-for-your-wait-1 )
Something is actually happening when we can’t see anything happening. God uses waiting to change us. God’s ultimate purpose is that Father, Son, and Spirit be enjoyed and glorified in and through us as His creation for all eternity. The Apostle Paul would write: “It is my eager expectation and hope that…Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil. 1:20)
Waiting is a tool of God to shape and to mold and to refine us into vessels of His mercy if we submit to Him through the process. In Psalm 62, David points out man’s attachment to the glories of riches and power. Stripping us of our glory in order to see His in due season is part of the plan.
9 Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath. 10 Put no trust in extortion; set no vain hopes on robbery; if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
Since we live in a fallen and broken world, it is inevitable that we wait. We often find ourselves in “seasons of waiting”. In the waiting, we can build more solid bridges of trust in God. We can surrender more fully to a Sovereign God who continues to possess perfect steadfast love even in the midst of a global pandemic. It might be a far cry to suggest that we Whistle While we Wait, but we can know with surety that there is always more true joy afoot during the wait than our eyes are attuned to seeing or our ears are accustomed to hearing. Will you use this season of waiting to trust more fully in God alone?