The world does not prepare us for the spiritual truth of what it is to wait silently. Until we learn to be still, we cannot receive the right expectations from God and will always be disappointed. Intimacy and honesty are active and dynamic. They build relationship with God and shift our reliance from self to our sovereign God who exceeds our human expectations.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. (Psalm 62:5)
There’s no doubt that, for most human beings, ‘wait’ is very much a four-letter word. It goes against everything we’re conditioned to expect, and especially so in a technological world where almost anything comes at the touch of a button. We’re taught and expected to go after what we want, take the fastest route in the shortest time, and regard impatience as a strength. Everything revolves around the quickest, easiest, and most efficient ways to achieve our desires. It’s an attitude slowly but deeply engrained in us over time, and one that digs in and obstinately refuses to shift. To cultivate the habit of waiting is exceptionally difficult, yet this is exactly what God wants from us. He wants us to wait silently, not in apathy or in resignation but in quiet faith. Our expectations need to shift from immediate gratification to intimate trust and absolute reliance on Him.
Wait silently is a deliberate shift of reliance.
Note that the psalmist addresses his soul – the fleshly side of all of us which clamours to have its own way and rejects the very notion of waiting. Human nature also manifests a strong tendency to do things our way. We seek out things and ways and solutions that we think will fit. Our logic and intellect wants to find the answers and our pride wants to succeed. It’s not helped by the fact that we’re surrounded by so many possibilities and so much potential. With everything we have virtually at our fingertips, why wait when we could resolve the issue immediately? This part of us rejects the instruction to wait silently for God. We struggle with the reality that His timing is not ours. While a part of us may acknowledge that both His provision and His timing are perfect, we chaff against the waiting.
This is partly our own impatience, but it’s also because we know that He is the God with whom nothing is impossible. We don’t doubt His power or ability. Human logic says that He can do it and there’s no point in waiting. We resent the necessity to wait silently for Him to act when there’s no apparent reason for it. For God, however, it’s a matter of who we rely on. Is it Him, or is it ourselves or the things around us? To wait requires obedience and faith. It demands that we set self aside. While we rely on fleshly or worldly solutions, we will never find it in us to wait in faith, trusting in His sovereign will, purposes, and power. When we learn to wait silently, that is when we make a deliberate shift to place our reliance in Him alone.
To wait silently is active, not passive.
We’re conditioned to regard waiting as a passive thing. It’s inactivity when activity is required. The flesh and the world scream for action, and our own fear of helplessness or lack of control pushes it along. Our perception is that waiting is sitting around doing nothing, which in turn is the direct antithesis of how we’re conditioned to respond. Our instinctive cry is ‘do something,’ and we find ourselves trying anything and everything. This never brings God-ordained results, but we pat ourselves on the back that at least we tried. The whole time, however, we build resentment within us that God, who can do anything, has not stepped in. The problem is that we’re interpreting wait silently by the standards and expectations of the world. But God is Spirit and works supernaturally, and we can never understand His purposes if we don’t look at things from His spiritual perspective.
Today’s verse is an instruction to the flesh – the soul – to yield to the spirit. We cannot wait in the flesh, only in the spirit. It’s active waiting because it’s Spirit empowered. To wait silently is not to simply sit around. It’s a dynamic reaching out with our spirits to God, an act of faith that He knows and hears and will intervene. This waiting is spiritual intimacy. It builds relationship and shifts our focus from self and our situation to God. Waiting humbles us because it brings us into the place of His absolute sovereignty. It’s a form of discipline, because we must actively subdue the flesh and bring it into obedience. Humbling ourselves is possibly one of the most active things we can ever do as it engages the whole of us. It’s something we must participate in because it confronts our self-spirit conflict head on.
Understanding wait silently.
We mustn’t get bogged down or diverted by the word ‘silently,’ because it does not mean to wait in silence. It refers to attitude rather than activity. Human nature will readily grumble, mumble, and complain. Self clamours with all kinds of justifications and complaints and murmurings when things don’t go our way. We very quickly slide into the place of frustration, resentment, and even offence. To wait silently means that we wait without the common habitual reactions to something that goes against the grain. Effectively, silently indicates the surrender of self. It defines the act of humbling ourselves to the reality that God is sovereign and His will is perfect. Waiting with an attitude of faith and acceptance is also an act of worship. It’s ‘be still and know that I am God,’ which releases a spiritual dynamic in our relationship with Him and draws us closer to Him.
Nowhere in the Bible does God ever tell us not to bring our requests to Him. Nor does He command us to remain silent about our true feelings or frustrations. It’s critical for our faith that we learn absolute honesty with God. Putting everything out in the open enables the Spirit to work with us to establish His Word in us and move us beyond feelings to faith. But if we don’t acknowledge the issues, we will never move past them into real, living faith. Having said this, our approach is important. Honesty with God isn’t a litany of resentment or complaints. It’s a genuine honesty that confesses our shortcomings and relies on Him to help us resolve them. We silence the demands of self and humble ourselves in honest prayer. We wait silently when we control our fleshly nature and reach out to God without pretence.
To wait silently defines our expectations.
We cannot have the right expectation if we haven’t first learned to wait silently. Intimacy and communion with God only happens in a place of waiting. When we wait, we listen, and when we learn to listen, we hear. In this way, our expectations change to line up with His will. Without waiting, we’re bound to our very human and fallible expectations and open ourselves to disappointment. It’s a matter of faith, and we cannot have faith or expectation if we don’t know His will. Any expectation that arises outside of waiting is of self, not of God. When we wait silently, He gives us the expectation – what we can expect – and the faith to expect it. Contrary to the ways of the world, waiting silently can be the most transforming activity of our lives because He stretches us to receive His expectations which are beyond our limited vision.
Teach us today, Lord, to wait silently and look only to You. Forgive us for our impatience and for those times where we have fallen into resentment or frustration. Work within us to give us hearts that are teachable and willing to come humbly to Your throne. We know, Lord, that Your timing and Your provision are perfect. We honour You for that and ask that, while we wait, You would bring us into that place of quiet intimacy where we learn Your will and Your ways.