They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength . . . Isaiah 40:31
Dear People of St. David’s,
We spend a lot of time waiting.
Waiting for people and things, for conflicts to end, endemics to pass, and things to return to “normal.”
In our youth, we waited to fall in love, for college acceptance letters. We waited for the magical day when we turned 21, for the day of our engagement, for our wedding day, for the impending birth of children.
As adults, we wait for friends or clients to arrive. We wait in traffic, and for doctors to see us. We wait for children to return home from a date or college. We wait for them to marry and for grandchildren.
Later, we wait for test results, and whether a treatment will work.
Times of waiting can produce anxiety that cripples us, sabotaging our creativity, vibrancy, and joy.
But times of anxiety can also provide a rich encounter with the peace of God. It is a matter of focus really. In times of high angst, the Apostle Paul invites us “to be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication make your requests known to God.” We will be anxious, but prayerfulness opens us to “the peace which passes all understanding [that] will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” and transform us. If we fear what might be, or long for resolution to come immediately, our time of waiting brings stomach tightening anxiety. Times of anxiety make clear, if we are paying attention, that we think we control our lives or the lives of those around us.
Indeed, our times are in God’s hands.
When the disciples had witnessed the Ascension of Jesus, scripture says, they returned to Jerusalem singing hymns of praise. For ten more days they waited without Jesus present and praised God. This is an interesting strategy to use when waiting. They trusted what Jesus said and waited in hopefulness.
To learn hope, we must know a few things:
- God’s promises are trustworthy, worth re-ordering our lives to embrace and follow.
- God oversees human history; past, present, and future; God is concerned with small details about us as well.
- God loves us so much that God has given Godself for us, why then would God place us in a circumstance that God could not bear together with us?
- God has surrounded us with a faith community made up of those from every language, nation, family, and people. We bear one another’s anxieties and fears through our prayers of healing and our witness to God’s faithfulness.
- We have a history with God. If we have kept prayer journals, we have evidence that God answers our prayers. Prayer enables us to make wise decisions and choose what is best for us.
Anxiety cannot change the thing we fear, but waiting prayerfully with praise for God’s faithfulness will transform us. Knowing the “God, our help in ages past,” helps us to envision a different future so that we are free to care for those around us. The community of faith is always there to carry us and mediate Christ and peace when we need them.
Grace and Peace,
The Rev. Dr. Peter Stube