“I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; ” (Lamentations 3:24–25, NIV)
The author tells us that his "self-talk" is intentionally focused on truth about who the Lord is. It is all too human to dwell on our problems, isn't it? As I read the verses prior to this text (to gain perspective on the context) I note that in verse 19 the author is remembering his affliction and his wandering. As a result (v 20) his soul is downcast. How true! When we focus on our problems they grow in size. When we focus on the Lord and his promises, they shrink.
The Lord is my portion. This phrase is used only a few times in the OT. It refers to the Levites, who were the only one of the twelve tribes who did not possess any land in Israel. They were the priests who relied on the tithes of the people to provide for their needs. They were dependent on God to provide first to the land, then to the land-owners, and then to the priests and their families. Through this they learned to depend on God and to wait for him.
Waiting is among the hardest things I have to do. There are things that I would love to see happen here and now. And even though I ask God for them, the response seems to be "wait". These verses are an encouragment to continue to hang in there, continue to pray, and continue to watch for God to show up and work.
The Lord is good to those who hope in him. Because I know this to be true it is easier to wait. David had to wait for God to fulfill his promises (Psalm 37:7). Moses had to wait 40 years to see the promised land (and then only from a distance). Paul had to wait for God to remove a thorn from his flesh (and he apparently never did). It is good to wait for the Lord. He blesses those who wait.
The real blessing of waiting is not that when the answer finally comes, it is a greater reason for celebration. It is the things that God teaches during the waiting process. While I persevere and while I depend on God I grow more patient, more understanding. My heart grows softer towards God and towards others. God is developing character within me when I endure hardship.
By this time, then, I should be an expert in patience and a saint in endurance. I wish that were true. Although I have a great environment for growth while I wait I too frequently waste a golden opportunity. God is teaching me through these verses to look above my circumstances and obstacles and look instead towards God - to find my delight in him and to wait for him.
Yesterday's personal devotions from Psalm 121 (yes, I'm still reading the Revised Common Lectionary on Sundays) tell me to look above the plain of the battlefield and raise my eyes to the hills. That's where my help comes from. It comes from the Lord, the one who made the heavens and the earth.
Today, Lord, lift my eyes to you. At those moments when I want to look at the problems that I face, teach me instead to look into your eyes. Give me patience to endure and to wait for you to come and help. Forgive me for taking too much on myself and for moving ahead of you at times. Come today and lead. You have laid out in advance of today the good deeds that I should walk in. Allow me to see them and to walk in the path that you have for me. Amen.