From Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent
Waiting is difficult business. Sometimes the hardest work is staying still and trusting that God works even in silence. We want the confirmation of burning bushes, pillars of fire, and visiting angels. That is not the stuff of ordinary life, but it does not mean that miracles are outdated or that we cannot expect God to speak new and even unbelievable possibility into our individual and collective lives. There is something to be said for conditioning ourselves to anticipate these possibilities. Most of us do not wake up ready and able to receive or understand God’s words. We have to train ourselves to become the type of Earthly vessels that can endure the challenging joy of waiting on God, whether we are waiting for the Christ child or for an answer to prayer. We need ways of training ourselves in strength, patience, courage, and endurance. Spiritual disciplines like prayer, solitude, fasting, and scripture reading can be useful resources for training in daily discipleship. They open us up, hone our hearing and our spiritual vision, and make us sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
We can practice one or more of the spiritual disciplines to help guide our reflection, discernment, and action around the circumstances we bring before God and how we invite God to prepare us during our seasons of waiting. Part of that preparation might be God’s invitation to us to consider our attitudes, motivations, and perspectives, at this season of life. We wait in confidence and hope not because of who we are but because of whom we trust and believe God is: faithful, steadfast, full of loving-kindness, true to God’s word, and present with us.
Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.
Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the Earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the Earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.
The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes upon him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for he sees that his day is coming. The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their sword shall enter into their own heart, and their bows shall be broken.
A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but the Lord upholds the righteous.
The Lord knows the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever. They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied. But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked borrows, and pays not again: but the righteous shows mercy, and giveth. For such as be blessed of him shall inherit the Earth; and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off.
The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholds him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed. Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the Lord loves judgment, and forsakes not his saints; they are preserved forever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off.
The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever. The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom, and his tongue talks of judgment. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.
The wicked watches the righteous, and seeks to slay him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when he is judged. Wait on the Lord, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it.
I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading himself like a green bay tree. Yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not: yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together: the end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord: he is their strength in the time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them: he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him.
- What advice does the psalmist give on what to do while waiting on God?
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
Let him sit alone and keep silent, because God has laid it on him.
- How does this passage encourage you during the waiting for Advent?
- What does “seeking the Lord,” look like for you during this season?
Rewrite in your own words one of the passages you just read. Make it applicable to your unique situation, or compose your own short psalm on waiting because you believe in God’s character.