Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD. ~Psalm 31:24
I’ve been thinking about waiting a lot today. Waiting, to me, is a theological concept; it is a mode of response to the challenges of life. Waiting is a recognition that life is often disappointing, that is, it does not conform to what we imagine. In disappointing times, one has often to simply endure until fortunes change.
As someone who believes in God, I want to wait rather than endure. Endurance is a neutral term, a kind of stubbornness which I am gifted with. Waiting, however, is a positive term. It is eschatological, that is, it requires hope and vision and a goal (telos). A person who waits trusts that better days are ahead because God (or fate, or the future) can be trusted.
For fans of Heidegger, this is a kind of gelassenheit, a staring into the Nothing. By waiting we suffer the way things are in hope of a better time. By waiting we respond to challenges with grace and trust and as much peace as we are given.
This is what the Psalmist means. To wait on the LORD is to trust to God’s promise of restoration of wrongs and satisfaction of disappointments. Trusting such a promise should leave to courage and an inner strength.
It is still never easy to wait. But in waiting we do not simply endure, we hope.