Waiting for God

Kaph. — v.81-88

There are times in life when the everyday drama stops; the hopes and dreams of planning out the future suddenly seem pointless.  There is no known future ahead. The crisis of the moment stops your world from turning. It is as if the rest of the world, its people and all their blithe business, keep turning without you.  Their workaday cares seem trivial and even desired, compared with the crisis you bear. W

It may be the death of a child, the trauma of abuse, fear over the possible impending suicide of a loved one, imprisonment, or the reality of some other prolonged and severe suffering–something oppressive has happened and all you can do is bear with the crisis as it looms central in your life for who knows how long. 

I’ve borne many sorrows, but there is no sorrow like watching someone else suffer.  When suffering happens to myself, I know where to turn and just the activity of bringing my pain to the Lord has its own healing. That is not to make light of it, but compared to the mystery of bringing someone else’s pain to the Lord, I believe it to be less grievous.  

It is not enough to say “Take it to the Lord in prayer”, although that is exactly what we need to do.  The truth is that we need to take it to the Lord in prayer unendingly.  We all want to see immediate results.  We want the suffering to be over in answer to our faith. But faith that is seen is not faith at all.  

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 1:1

Two key Greek words pop out from that verse: hupostasis and elenchos.  

Faith is the hypostasis, or “legal standing”, of things hoped for.   It is a legal term of guarantee, as a title is to a car.  It is as though a Father gives the title of a new car to the son, yet has the car in to get cool things added.  The car belongs to the son, but he has not yet taken physical possession of it. The father withholds the car, not to be stingy or to tease, but to give the son something better. The son holds the title and dreams of the car to come, even if he has to walk or ride the bus a little longer.

Of course our suffering cannot be minimized by the analogy, but it illustrates that faith is a firm legal standing of all that is hoped for.  It will come about.

How we pray matters. When my Father was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, I certainly hoped for him to not suffer. I didn’t want him to die. So what gives? My father suffered, and then died.*

The problem with our prayers, so I have found, is not that God’s promise is not being fulfilled.  The problem is in the prayer itself.  

Faith concerns itself not with my wants and desires, but God’s character.  What is it that I hope for?  

Immediately, I don’t want to see anyone suffer, and I don’t want to suffer seeing them suffer.  Can it be, that my attention is on this temporal world and not upon my Lord?  Is my unselfish prayer really a selfish one?  Am I more concerned with my ease and glory–even with my loved one’s ease and glory–or God’s glory often only revealed in suffering?  

It was not wrong, and it is never wrong to want suffering to end! No, that is what we are to do, to bring all suffering and sickness to the Lord for His healing (James 5:14-16).  But what is healing?  

This body and earthly life will end and there is no escape from that reality.  Death is a thief. In the end, what do I want from this life, for me or my loved ones?  Ultimately, I want our lives to mean something.  We were created to crave meaning.  We want to know that whatever it is that we are suffering through has purpose and meaning and that the result will be a lasting good.

Reading God’s Word, and the testimonies of so many mature, seasoned Christians, I have been early brought to the realization that if I’m not out for God’s glory, then I must be out for my own.  The question is not so much “when will this suffering end?” but “Lord, when will you gain your glory and prove Your Word true?”  

I have a legal title that says God has a purpose in my suffering to bring about good and not evil. I have a legal title that says God will reign supremely in this circumstance and I and my loved one will know peace again.  I have a legal title that says God wins and evil is the temporary thing.  

I’m clutching that title with all that I have. God’s Word is my title, it is my faith when my emotional hold on faith withers “like a wineskin in the smoke”.  

Faith is the elenchos, the “proof” or inner conviction, of things not seen.  Faith doesn’t rely on feeling.  Praise the Lord!!  My faith is rested on my title, and therefore intellectually, I am aware that I stand on solid ground, even when all else gives way.  

God’s Word is still true.  God is still Sovereign over the events of my life, and He will bring about that which is good.  He knows my limitations “that we are but dust” (Psalm 103:14). He knows and understands the limitations of my mortal frame.  He is compassionate.  He loves my loved one and myself far more than I can.  He will bring about the good.  

Conviction means “with victory” and that ought to tell us something! Faith claims the victory as a legal title before it ever comes about. 

Kaph is the soul’s expression of near-wilting in the prayer warrior.  Does this happen to God’s people?  Oh, yes it does.  When I think that Jesus Himself prayed these prayers, I am greatly comforted. 

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42).  

This is the essence of Kaph. “I suffer, Lord, and these whom you have given me are suffering also.  I lift my prayer for healing and restoration of all good peace and joy to you. Suffering kills the joy of life and I feel within my life that I can not sustain for long.  Oh, Lord, bring about the fulfillment of your promises for us today! Yet…..not my will but yours be done.”  

How can we pray this prayer?  Because we know that God’s will IS GOOD. 

 As Joseph came to discover in the horrifying, irrevocable events of his life, all that we see as evil, God’s purposes are for a greater, more perfect good (Genesis 50:20). 

So am I supposed to walk on my way with a song on my heart and a lilt in my step?  Shall I dismiss the reality of my suffering to pretend at hope? 

Certainly not.  We keep praying.  We keep holding on.  But we do so because we know we hold the deed to the GOOD that is coming.  We may ask “How long?” but we don’t cave in despair.  We may weep with those who weep, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope.  We may mourn the suffering and the loss, but we don’t mourn as those who have no life ahead.  

The best thing about Kaph is that the Hebrew letter symbol is that of an outstretched hand, or palm. The meaning includes words like bend, open, allow, tame. Is my hand open to the Lord in this circumstance? Am I bending my will to His, and allowing him to tame my selfish heart to the control of my Creator, Sovereign Lord, and King?

God’s hand is certainly opened toward us in love. Think of this psalm as God’s hand outstretched to you, and your hand outstretched to God in faith.  Take His nail-pierced hand. Believe and receive your comfort, for His Word is true and you have the evidence of the cross, the empty tomb, and the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to keep your soul in hope:

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; the boundaries of your life are ever before me.”  (Isaiah 49:16

Lord, Thank you that Your Word is true and your promises never fail. I hold on to your promise right now for my loved ones who are waiting for God. Lord, I’ve put my faith on the line and have proclaimed your truth.  Keep your promises so that the world can see that you are good and that you keep your Word.  I can’t know how all of this is going to turn out and waiting wears us down.  We see only our limitations, the boundaries of our ability to hold together under the strain. But you see those limitations, and you know just how much stretching and stress will bring about a new creature, full of the glory of the Your Name. I believe in Your Word and I feel the hope you give.  Help me to translate that as I wait for You.  So that all may know You and come to You, Lord, I place our situation again and again in Your hands.  Thy will be done.  Only keep us all who believe in Your presence while we wait.  In the Name of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and in the power and keeping of your Holy Spirit we pray, Amen. 

© Feb 5, 2019 by readpsalm119.com.  

_________________________

* This was in the 1980s, unfortunately before the wonderful advances in medicine we have today.  My father gave testimony that the “Captain and his armies” (Joshua 5:14) were stationed by his bed just before he passed away, his face alight with a smile.  God’s word is true.  I may never know the meaning of my father’s suffering and early passing, but the suffering did end, and all glory has been given to the Father and is still being given to the Father because He held my own earthly father in the palm of His hand and kept him safe through suffering to eternal life.  My father’s faith did not wilt and die out. My own faith is vibrant. 

FURTHER RESOURCES:

I Leave to All Things to God’s Direction“Lutheran Men’s Voice – I leave all things to God’s Direction”, uploaded by dottyprabhu, Jun 7, 2009. [YouTube; 1:47 min.].  This is one of the most beautiful videos.  Thanks to the Lutheran Men’s Voice chorale.  

It is important to understand the times in which that this hymn was written.  This was only about forty years after the Thirty Years War in Germany.  The whole Rhineland region of Germany had been horrifically and repeatedly been sacked and burned.  The suffering of this region was staggering and long-lasting.  And yet….!  The greatest hymns of our faith were written by these sufferers!  They were not only sufferers, they were victors in Christ and today we have their testimonies purchased by their suffering to keep us in our own.  Praise the Lord, His Word is TRUE!  Lyrics follow:

Lyrics below by Salomo Franck, 1685, Translated by August Crull, 1845-1923; from http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com

I leave all things to God’s direction,

He loveth me in weal and woe; 

His will is good, true His affection. 

With tender love His heart doth glow.

My Fortress and my Rock is He;

What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.

My God hath all things in His keeping,

He is the ever faithful Friend;

He grants me laughter after weeping,

And all His ways in blessings end.

His love endures eternally;

What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me. 

The will of God shall be my pleasure

While here on earth is mine abode;

My will is wrong beyond all measure,

It doth not will what pleaseth God.

The Christian’s motto e’er must be:

What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.

God knows what must be done to save me,

His love for me will never cease;

Upon His hands He did engrave me

With purset gold of loving grace.

His will supreme must ever be!

What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.

My God desires the soul’s salvation,

Me also He desires to save;

Therefore with Christian resignation

All earthly troubles I will brave.

His will be done eternally;

What pleaseth God, that pleaseth me.


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