Psalm 40:1-3

December 21, 2020

To read the whole passage for today, click here.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
   he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
   out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
   making my steps secure. 
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
   a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
   and put their trust in the Lord.
 Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the Lord…

He drew me up from the desolate pit…

He put a new song in my mouth…

Many will…put their trust in the Lord.

This picture of the Psalmist waiting patiently, even in a desolate place, strikes me as appropriate for this year. It’s Advent, a time when we wait. We practice this waiting every year, as we gather with prayers and songs and the lighting of candles and we remember that Christmas is not about the shopping and the parties–or even the family gatherings.

But in some ways, it seems as if we have been waiting all year. Here in Advent, the truth is that we have been waiting since Lent. Some liturgically sensitive people have mused that it feels like Lent never really ended and we are still waiting for Easter.

When we are waiting, the temptation to go back to whatever we are used to is often our companion. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness and longed to go back to Egypt. God was taking them to a new land, and they decided they preferred the comfort of the old one (Exodus 16), even if it meant death.

This year, the temptation to go back to “normal” is strong. (Whatever that means–I have a friend that always jokes that “normal” is just a setting on the dryer.) I hear it all the time as I talk to people, this desire for things to be normal again. The desire to get back to how things used to be.

I remember when I was preparing to say my goodbyes in Henderson, leaving my ministry of 18 years and so many people we love, and someone said to me, “Things won’t be the same around here.” I replied, “They wouldn’t have been anyway.” Things change all the time–we change, they change, circumstances change. Every day things are different than they were before. There are just times and seasons when the change is more profound and obvious. Change is inevitable. Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

But what if…while we are waiting, even waiting in desolation, sorrow, and an all out miry bog…God is doing a new thing?

What if the reward for our patience and our waiting isn’t that we will return to singing the old, familiar songs we love so much, but that God will plant a new song in our mouths and our hearts? What if, upon being drawn out of the miry bog, our feet find solid ground in a newer, higher, more lovely place than what we knew before?

And what if our patience yields a new song that not only turns out to be even more wonderful than the old, familiar songs, but also causes many to see, fear, and put their trust in the Lord?

I’m thinking that might be worth the wait.