Waiting in Hope; March 29, 2023

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the Lord.

This Psalm’s biggest claim to fame is the first line of verse 5, “Into your hands I commit my spirit,” which Jesus either quoted or simply echoed from the cross. (Luke 23:46) Likewise, verse 19 has been very nicely set to music. In general, the Psalm seesaws between despair and faith, making it all the more significant that it closes with this admonition to faith. It contains yet another example of a point of translation in which I greatly prefer the Japanese to the English. Scattered throughout the Old Testament are places that are sometimes rendered as “wait” and sometimes as “hope,” but in Japanese are consistently given as “wait in hope.” Why that option doesn’t seem to occur to English translators is a bit of a mystery to me. Maybe English-language culture isn’t that patient! Regardless, it’s an important part of faith. We may have complete assurance that God is going to do something, but we’ve got to release the timing into His hands and wait for Him. Modern society isn’t very helpful in that regard, because everything seems to focus on instant gratification. Any wise parent knows that giving children what they want the moment they want it all the time is no way to build character, and God is the perfect Father. As has been said many times, He is more interested in our character than our comfort. He’s preparing us for eternity with Him, and I know for sure I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by a bunch of spoiled brats for eternity! We need to trust God for His good intentions, His perfect power, and His precise timing, and not stress out over any of those factors. As the writer to the Hebrews points out, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

We are in yet another practicum in this area, with my wife and me being diagnosed with COVID on Monday, after symptoms started on Friday. We canceled Sunday’s service simply because we weren’t up to it, suspecting the cause but not having it confirmed until the next day. Since then the course has hardly been pleasant, but not dire, and both of us now have temperatures in the “normal” range. We were told on Monday that we should self-quarantine through Friday, but on Tuesday I thought that was optimistic. Now, I think it’s probably spot on, at least as far as our being contagious to others. We’ve lost count of how many friends who have offered to “do anything” for us. It’s nice to know we are loved! Regardless of how we feel, physically or emotionally, we need to remember that God is still God, He loves us far better than we love ourselves, and His plans are going to be worked out for our blessing and His glory – on His schedule.

Father, thank You that by Your grace I am more patient than I once was, but I still have room to grow. Help me indeed wait in hope on You, in perfect peace, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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