By Guy C. Ames

I love the picture that David paints of God’s care for us.  Clearly as he writes this psalm he has come through a difficult time and has “come out on top.”  I love seeing God’s delivering hand at work.  In my early ministry I would invite my congregation to share their joys and concerns.  We loved hearing the good news of someone’s healing from a severe illness or receiving back a prodigal daughter or son.  But, I also could see the unstated questions from others sitting in the congregation as they wondered, “why hasn’t God answered my prayer?”


I wish I could explain why some can testify to a miracle when there are others who do not.  Those times I like to read some of David’s other Psalms, where he cries aloud, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” On one occasion he can write, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” but another time we hear Psalm 44: 23 Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord?  Awake, do not cast us off forever! 24 Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?


All of us have experienced such disappointments and the feelings that somehow God has left us alone.  We have prayed but the answers don’t seem present, which compounds the hurts.  I have known people who have more than their fair share of difficulties, and can only say to them, “I wish I understood.” 


David’s opening words: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry” testifies to two important principles of the Christian life: 1) the necessity of learning how to wait on God; and 2) the truth that God hears us when we pray.  In faith, we seek God, wait patiently, and trust that God is a good God even in a world filled with bad news, heartache, and loss.  In faith, we believe that God loves us and wants the best for us.  In faith, we believe that as we seek God, his heart provides for us.


Waiting is not in our nature.  When we feel pain, we want relief NOW.  When we have loss, we want recovery immediately.  More often than not, my waiting is anything but patient and my hope is that God responds quickly.  At times, we may simply not be able to see God’s larger picture.  All of this calls for us to trust that whatever we may be experiencing, God’s love is greater.


Following the birth of our three sons, my wife experienced a severe injury which gradually disabled her and kept her in the grip of pain for nearly 30 years.  We sought God’s help, invited prayer, participated in healing prayer and yet, she continued to decline. Along the way I stopped praying for God’s intervention, not wanting to feel more discouragement.  Disabled and bed bound we lost hope, but one doctor recommended a unique and unlikely treatment.


Expecting more disappointment, we took one last hopeful step.  To our surprise, after months of this treatment the pain began to lift, and then came a day when she began to see real relief.  In the days that followed, her life returned to some normalcy after all these years, and she began to believe that this might be a lasting change.  She discovered that two faithful friends had prayed every day for her healing for all those years.  Every day for nearly 30 years!  Humbled by their labor of love and my lack of faithfulness, God reminded me that my role is not to pray for results, but to pray and leave the results up to God.  God opened my eyes through the loving faith of these two friends who did not put a time limit on God for answered prayer.  These two understood that God invites us to join with him in prayerful waiting.  David’s Psalm 40 declares the power of trusting God as we learn how to wait when he added these words:


4 Happy are those who make the Lord their trust, who do not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you.