For several weeks, I had been undergoing a cutting-edge, experimental cancer treatment. I firmly believed God had led me to this stage by a totally unexpected but logical pathway. My oncologist had also enthusiastically concurred with my choice. One of the few ways to determine therapeutic progress in this trial is by measuring one’s prostate specific antigen (PSA) level. Mine had not decreased at all but had steadily increased over the first weeks. I was becoming skeptical as to whether or not this experimental regimen was to offer any clinical benefit and even more seriously, I was beginning to doubt whether God had actually led me to this point.
Then one morning I happened to read a portion from the Old Testament book of Lamentations 3: verses 19-26 written by the prophet Jeremiah. Specifically the prophet was imploring God to “remember my affliction….and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me.” Clearly Jeremiah was depressed and worried. However, he remembers that “the Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness…. Therefore I have hope in Him. The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he wait silently for the salvation of the Lord.”
The Bible encourages us to move toward faith and away from doubt. Actually, faith and doubt cannot co-exist in reality. But many of the Biblical giants we read about such as Abraham, his wife Sarah, Jacob, Moses, David, and numerous prophets of the Old Testament as well as Jesus’ own disciples doubted. But as a group, they all came directly to God with their doubts. Some of them argued and even hollered at God, but they didn’t walk away.
Waiting on the Lord is a kind of wrestling, taking our doubts and questions to Him because we know He is the only one who can help. No matter how hard the questions or the situation, “his mercies are new every morning (vv. 22-23) and His faithfulness is abundant. God’s love and compassion are always with us for He never abandons us. But in another sense, we often desire to see His love in action or to experience it first-hand in our personal circumstances.
This is the only reason we’re not crushed under life’s burdens and difficulties. The challenges to our faith are very real as evidenced by the scriptural use of the words “affliction, bitterness, wandering, and downcast” (depressed). Yet they are outweighed by God’s love and faithfulness as they are absolutely perfect. The most hopeful thing we can say is “the Lord is my portion” (translated ‘share’ or ‘inheritance’); “therefore I will wait for Him” (v. 24). This urges us to wait quietly and patiently without grumbling or complaining. The Lord sustains our very lives.
So personally I wait. I invoke the words of David in Psalm 37:7. I need to “rest” (or be still) “in the Lord and wait patiently” (longingly) “for Him”. To be continued; my treatments continue.