From a distance, I see her arms and face raised towards heaven as she moves about in choreographic abandonment and joy. What beauty and talent on display! Slowly, step by step, I inch closer, keeping myself discreet, hoping to get a better view of this free and elegant expression of worship. Yet, as I move closer I realize her movements don’t come easily, but are deliberate and painful, as if her joints are inflamed and each movement of the dance brings with it a fresh flood of suffering for the dancer. Her arms and face raised toward heaven are longing and aching for heaven itself. Yet, the abandonment and joy remain clearly written across her face, even in the agony.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and [a]cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait [c]patiently for Him…”
Waiting patiently. We’ll just say that patience and waiting has pretty much been a forever struggle of mine—I’m impatient, and it seems to be something that God is forever whittling away in my life.
I used to have such a glamorized view of the process, imagining that a sure sign of being at rest and having conquered the struggle of patience would be the absence of struggle. If somehow I could shake myself of the struggle, and feel completely at rest, then surely that would mean I have victory over the problem. I quit believing my own philosophy when I stumbled across this fairly innocent phrase in this rather familiar Psalm and dug deeper.
“Rest [to be dumb, by implication to be astonished, to stop;–cease, forbear, hold peace, quiet self, rest, keep silent, be still, tarry, wait.] in the Lord and…
Wait patiently [to twist or whirl, i.e. specifically: to dance, to writhe in pain or fear, to wait, figuratively:–bear, bring forth, calve, dance, drive away, fall grievously (with pain), fear, form,grieve, hope, look, be in pain, be much pained, rest, stay, tarry, travail (with pain) tremble, trust, wait carefully, be wounded] for Him.
I have to admit, it’s hard for me to understand how words such as dancing and pain, hope and fear, resting and travailing can all exist as a description for the same thing. My mind has a hard time wrapping around the fact that a description for “waiting patiently” would include “writhing in pain or fear.”
So much for my flowery idea of all struggle ending when I finally get the hang of this patience thing.
And yet, as I look at life, I realize that waiting really does involve a continual “being wounded” ….and the process of it can be beautiful, if I allow it…
The agony of praying for a lost soul year after year, hoping, waiting for results…Waiting, day by day, to watch God unfold the pages of His story for me when all I can really understand and see is the here and now and history…The endless wait until the time when we can join loved ones amid the throngs in heaven…the longing for that time to be now…
I’m learning that the victory is not so much in fighting against and quenching the struggle as it is in embracing Christ and the agony with hope for what is promised…in being intentional about where I go with the struggle rather than trying to close off the feelings. . .
It’s a God-ordained process and the only way to really see the beauty in the end is to embrace the agony of the here and now.