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Exploring the Psalms
Psalm 37
Watching and waiting for God

Exploring the Psalms

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Psalm 37
Watching and waiting for God 

Read : Psalm 37 

On the days following Easter Sunday, Jesus' disciples and friends were playing something of a waiting game. They faced a time of great uncertainty as they first discovered his body missing from the tomb, as word spread that he had been seen first by Mary Magdalene, and then by others as they walked the Emmaus Road, as they watched and wondered about their future, locked together in an upper room. As they returned to their old ways, taking out their boats and taking up their nets on the sea of Galilee. 

Such a time of watching and waiting . . .
where was Jesus?
when would he reappear?
what was he wanting of them now?
what was the future of this small group of friends?
when would Jesus ascend to his Father in heaven?
when would they be left alone without him?
what would they do without him? what was this power that he promised them?
when would this power be given to them? 

A litany of questions, and at the heart of it all the need to watch and wait and trust that this would all happen, that it would happen in God's good time. And as you probably know, there is nothing harder than longing for prayers to be answered, or watching and waiting to see what God is going to reveal to us as his plan for our lives. 


The Psalmist was no stranger, either, to this wondering and waiting. The psalms are filled with the sense of longing for answers, the sense of being far from God in their time of need, the many questions that they ask . . .
how long must we wait?
Why do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself?  

As we have said so often in these last few months while we examine the psalms and their message for us today, the psalmist talks to God with such honesty. Cries from the heart, be they cries of pain or shouts of joy and acclamation. 

As we continue or Easter celebrations and read the various stories of the post-resurrection encounters it might be easy to forget the uncertainty that we have described already. 

It might be easy for us to get swept away in our own shouts of Alleluia and forget that the days that followed Christ's resurrection were days of confusion for his friends and followers. They had given up their livelihood, left home and family because they had heard and heeded Christ's call to them. They had learned new things, ways of prayer and ways of healing, teaching new things to those in the synagogues, in the villages, casting out demons and reaching out to the poor and the outcast.  

These men (and women) had decided to follow God's path, a very different one from that which they were already walking. And suddenly it all seems to fall apart, Jesus had tried to get them to understand that his ministry would appear to end badly, that there would be pain and death and they chose not to understand, or they simply could not understand that this ending was the one spoken of by the prophets. But as they watch and wait they are given a promise by Jesus and while still crowded together fearful of repercussions from the authorities they wait now more with a sense of anticipation . . . 

what next? 

It has become clear over the last few days, on each occasion that they meet their risen Lord that he has a plan that their mission is far from over, it is really just beginning! They may have a better idea of what they are to do, that they are to continue what Jesus has started, that the baton has been placed firmly into their hands and that it is their turn now to run with it.  

But on their own? How shall they manage? 

And that is where they start to wait in anticipation of this power that Jesus promised to send them. They watch and wait and we can only guess that they were impatient, worried, still afraid, wondering what was to come.  

Of course, we know, we have the advantage of looking back and knowing that the wait was over with the coming of the Holy Spirit at the day of Pentecost. We have the advantage of looking back at the furrowed brows and anxious eyes and we know that their wait would be over in God's time. 

But for now this Easter season we leave the group watching and waiting for God to act, for Christ's promise to them to be fulfilled. Just as the Psalmist watched and waited all those years before - I wonder if the disciples recognised the Psalmist's plight as their own? 

I wonder if they read the Scriptures and found comfort in the fact that they were not the first, nor the last, who felt that God was distant, who wondered when their prayers would be answered. 

It would be good to think that they were encouraged, as we, too, should be, that while we watch and wait, God is at work, he hears our prayers, and that one day we like the Psalmist, like the disciples at Pentecost would know that the waiting was worthwhile.  

Waiting is hard,
watching can be anxious,
wondering about God's future plans can be perplexing.  

In all the unknowns, and amid the question marks that punctuate our lives may God grant us patience and help us to realise that God's time is different from ours, and all creation is held in his hands and moves to his timing. 

Rev Suzie Stark, 2016


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