We have some dear friends that used to live in the U.S. that are now back in the husband's home country of England. The wife has battled some long and ongoing health issues, yet she remains full of faith. We see her faith in her prayers when she sends us these powerful prayers that blow us away!
One she recently sent was an incredibly powerful prayer for my Dad's salvation based on Psalm 25. As I was praying her prayer for my Dad, I was prompted to read Psalm 25, and I am so thankful for that prompting. God revealed, through His Words in Psalm 25, about “the waiting”.
God's Help Through Psalm 25
As I was reading this Psalm, I noticed the repetition of the theme of waiting. In verse 3, then again in verse 5, and finally in verse 21, David shares with us the need for waiting. See excerpt below:
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. 2 O my God, in You I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. 3 Indeed, none who wait for You shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. 4 Make me to know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. 5 Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day long Psalm 25:1-5 (emphasis mine)
Waiting. This is not just a theme that David visits and then leaves. It is a theme we see over and over in the Psalms (check out Psalm 62 and 130). The Lord is reminding us that waiting is a natural part of following Christ. But let's be honest - we don't like to wait. One of my mentors says, "waiting reminds me that I am NOT in charge!" While I know this is a natural part of following the Lord, there is nothing my flesh likes about waiting!
Where are you, husband or wife, as you read this? You maybe in a season of waiting. Maybe waiting for things to change in your marriage. Or maybe waiting for things to change with your relationship with your kids. Waiting.
I strongly believe that the first and primary battle I face in my waiting is unbelief. As an example, the longer my prayers for my Dad's salvation go unanswered, the harder it is to continue to believe and persevere in prayer. I am continually tempted to give up this battle and succumb to unbelief. Here is part of what John Piper shares on unbelief that really encourages me:
"This led us to the conclusion that top priority in the Christian life is learning to battle unbelief and fight the fight of faith. We must be rid of the notion that before we were Christians, we were fighting for faith and battling unbelief, but now that we are Christians, we can relax because the battle is over. I am a believer. I have won the battle. That’s a wrong notion. It leaves you very vulnerable to the subtlety of unbelief. At the end of his life, Paul looks back over several decades of being a Christian and says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” He had fought the good fight to keep the faith all his Christian life (2 Timothy 4:7)." -- John Piper
Out of all the battles we face, Piper suggests that the battle of unbelief is at the top. And I believe that to be true, not because Piper said it, but because the Bible reveals that over and over in its pages.
So what's the antidote to this unbelief? My pastor would say it's simple faith. Two things he often shares are the statement ,"It's all about faith", and the question, "What's your next step of faith?" In both of those, he is exhorting me and exhorting you to keep fighting this battle of faith against unbelief. It is not a battle I can retreat from if I am to finish my race and keep the faith.
Jesus Encouragement for Our Waiting and Unbelief
In addition to David's exhortation in the Psalms, we also see Jesus exhorting us in this battle of waiting and unbelief. This battle is revealed to us in a short but powerful scene in Mark 5, in verses 21-43.
And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about Him, and He was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Him, he fell at His feet 23 and implored Him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And He went with him....35 While He was still speaking, there came from the ruler's house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And He allowed no one to follow Him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when He had entered, He said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at Him. But He put them all outside and took the child's father and mother and those who were with Him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand He said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And He strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. Mark 5:21-24 and 35-43
In these passages, Jairus, a synagogue leader, came to Jesus in desperation because his daughter was at the point of death. Jesus agrees to go with Jairus to see his daughter. But then bad news comes in verse 35, when Jairus was told that his daughter had died.
As a Dad, I can't imagine what Jairus felt in that moment. The news that your beloved child is dead must have been overwhelming. But the words of Jesus are calling Jairus out of unbelief to faith. In verse 36, Jesus says five simple but powerful words to Jairus. He says, "Do not fear, only believe".
Jesus call to Jairus is His call to us in our waiting. To fight our unbelief and run to Him and His Word for faith and belief to persevere. As I wait for my Dad's salvation. As this dear friend in England waits on change in her health. As you persevere in your season of waiting.
But what is the Lord calling us to do as we wait? Surely this waiting is not passive. As I read this passage in Mark 5 and David's words in Psalm 25, I see the Lord calling me to three things:
Surrender: When David says, "To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul", this reminds me that I am to surrender again to His Lordship over my life. Waiting reminds me that I am not in charge. But it should also remind me that He is in charge, sovereignly and powerfully ruling from His Throne of Grace.
Trust: In verse 2, I hear him saying "I put ALL my trust in You, Lord, as I wait". This is the battle against unbelief as we wait. Put yourself in Jarius' shoes for a moment back in Mark 5. Jesus calls him out of fear and unbelief to believe. What went through the mind of Jairus as he and Jesus walked together to his home where his daughter lay dead? And what did Jesus say to Jairus as they made this walk back to his home? Knowing the compassion and love of the Lord, I would guess the Lord was continuing to call Jairus to believe and trust. And in our moments of waiting, the Lord is calling us to do the same, remembering that He is forever faithful.
Asking in Prayer: In verses 4 and 5 of Psalm 25, David uses the phrases, "make me to know Your ways", "teach me Your paths", and "lead me in Your truth and teach me". David is asking the Lord for His help on this road of waiting. This is the gift of prayer the Lord has given us. To ask and seek the things that the Lord so wants to give us, if we would only ask. But look carefully at David's words - these are His ways, His paths, and His truth. As I ask in prayer, I must remember that prayer is not primarily about getting from God, but about aligning or re-aligning my will with His. As we wait and as we ask, I must continually align myself with the Lord's will and surrender my own will and timing.
Is this easy? No! But I am encouraged and comforted by the knowledge that the Lord is walking with me step-by-step, in my waiting. He never leaves me alone in this battle of waiting against unbelief. He is there when I call to Him and His mercy and grace is available in my time of need.
SUGGESTED PRAYER: You are the One and Only God. I surrender to You as my Lord. In You, Lord, my God, I put my trust as I wait. I trust in You; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. I know that no one who truly hopes in You will ever be put to shame. Show me Your ways, Lord, teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long! In the Name of Jesus.
Excerpt from John Piper: https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/battling-unbelief-together
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2018. Please send any comments or questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org