Psalm 33:20-21 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
It’s interesting that the Japanese specifies, “Our souls wait in hope for the Lord.” It is also interesting that this is one of the few places the NIV does specify “wait in hope,” rather than just “wait.” “Wait in hope” is a fairly common Japanese compound, and it seems very expressive to me. Waiting without hope is resignation and despair. We often have to wait for God’s timing, but much of the time we do so impatiently. This is not that, but rather knowing that God’s solution is going to be better than anything we could have come up with, and it will be in time. This is not necessarily passive; rather, it calls for active participation. If we are waiting in hope for God, then we will be doing all we can to be ready for His answer when it comes. I am reminded of the farming community in the American Midwest that called a prayer meeting because of a drought, and only one little girl took an umbrella. The drought was broken, and I think it may have been because of that little girl’s faith! California is in the grip of a severe drought right now. Water usage rules aside, the only real solution will be a shift in the weather patterns, but California has led the world in active defiance of God in a number of areas, so “waiting in hope” for them would involve repentance at the very least. Most of us operate on a much more personal scale, but the principle of waiting in hope is applicable on every scale. It involves recognizing that God is indeed our “help and shield,” and nothing else will do the trick. Many people depend on government to be their help and shield, but that is actually idolatry. God can and does use governments, but when we place the government ahead of God we are spitting in God’s face.
It is interesting and timely that this passage has come up when I was already sure the message for this coming Sunday was to be on “Refuge,” talking about where we go, emotionally speaking, when things get tough. These two verses express the desired outcome of what I expect to say! I have tended to retreat to various things over the course of my life when things have gotten difficult. Thankfully, neither alcohol nor drugs have been among them, but the principle is the same. I’m still learning to turn first to God, rather than falling back on Him once other things have proved inadequate – as they always will. I still have room to grow in “waiting in hope” on my Creator, even though I am very familiar with Isaiah 40:28-31. It is interesting to me that the most traditional English translation, the KJV, renders verse 31 as, “But they that wait upon the Lord,” and the NIV says, “but those who hope in the Lord,” but no English translation I’m aware of expresses it with the compound, “wait in hope.” I wonder why not? As a pastor, I need to lead all the believers in placing God first in all their priorities: desires, hopes, expectations. It is only when we do that, that we will walk in the peace, joy, and satisfaction that He intends for us.
Father, You know who is struggling and how. I ask You to speak Your truth into each heart to set them free from the lies that are tying them in knots. May they let go of all the negative “what ifs” and choose to trust you, waiting in hope on You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!