I sat and waited. And I waited….”Sending message 1 of 8,” my phone displayed. I was in the midst of a fairly intense exchange of text messages and trying to get my point across. I was so frustrated, and growing more so by the second it seemed. I waited. The person with whom I was texting kept sending message after message while my phone feebly reported, “Sending message 3 of 9.” Why wasn’t my phone reacting NOW? Why wasn’t it going faster? Something must be wrong, I concluded.
We live in a world where we can send information, texts, ideas, and even pictures around the world in seconds. But the need for immediacy, the need to be heard and understood with haste is not a new concept, a new desire. In the second verse of Psalm 31–the Psalm appointed for today’s Office of Morning Prayer–the psalmist prays, “Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily.” The Book of Common Prayer translates the Hebrew as, “Incline your ear to me; make haste to deliver me.” (BCP p. 622)
Paraphrasing, “God, listen to me. I am in trouble, come and save me, correct this situation now!” How many times have we prayed this prayer, or some slight variation? How many times do we pray to God for help, for saving, for righting the wrong we are experiencing….”and do it now, please, God.” And how often do we come away from those times of prayer, when we are in need, wondering if something is wrong? Is God there? Does God care what happens? “…make haste to deliver me.”
In those moments of need, anxiety, hurt, trouble, it is difficult to see that God IS indeed there, that God is listening. Sometimes it is impossible to believe that God, who seems so presently absent, was ever there at all. Sometimes it is only the passing of time, perhaps even years, that we realize that God was indeed there, with us in our need, our pain, or our hurting and suffering. God does not abandon us. Ever.
In the very last verse of Psalm 31, the psalmist consoles us and gives us this encouragement, “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.” Perhaps that is cold comfort, but it is the truth.
Thanks be to God.