I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him.
I was reading this psalm the other day and something struck me. David starts by claiming he has waited patiently for the Lord, and I began to think about the things I have been waiting patiently for : things I believe God has shown me, and things I desire for myself. I have to confess the frustration I felt, and admit that my soul rather than praying to God and trusting in His timing, was questioning and perhaps demanding.
I’m not happy studying. I’m not happy with my body. I’m not happy with my life. I resent my job.
Having talked with some of my girl friends, I realised that they too, at some point, have struggled with unhappiness, the feeling of discontentment, restlessness, and impatience, wanting more. I sat with my Bible, telling God what I wanted and what I needed to be happy. Have you ever done this?
I know I could be happy if God would just give me my hearts desires! I had a spirit of complaining, and the more I complained the worse I felt, I became angry at God, at my husband, my boss, even, at times, my children: my frustration often bubbling up over petty issues that ordinarily would have little impact.
Then one day while on one of my pastoral visits, I went to see a wonderful lady from our church, which I had never visited before. Once in her flat, I was confronted with her extreme poverty and the chaos in which she was living. To meet this lady you would never know her circumstance, she is joyful, generous, patient, kind and, above al,l her love of God spills from her in waves of genuine happiness. I asked her how she remained so patient and happy. She replied that you have to be happy now, patience is a gift of the spirit that we have to be trained in, and it is not something we can just do.
She said we are all waiting for something, be it big or small, but if you don’t learn to be happy while you’re waiting for what you want, you’ll never be happy when you get it. Her happiness came from internal contentment; it was an overflow of her heart.
This understanding cut through me, the things I had asked God for assuming they would result in my happiness were innumerous. The though of choosing happiness was exhilarating, never had I considered happiness to be a choice. When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians, the word he used for “content” actually means to be contented with one’s lot in life. The exhaustion we feel straining against our realities wastes so much energy, resisting what is, and trying to control what is beyond our control, causes anxiety. Frustration takes over. Anger prevails.
Instead of enjoying my life, I had been dwelling on the things I didn’t have and had no control. I decided to stop fighting against what is and accept where I am now. Trusting in God to provide and always have a plan for my life, to want the best for me, even when I can’t see it. Contentment became my new light burden; I felt the weight of unhappiness lift. It was scary at first. To truly accept where I was, trusting that God would see me through. We cast our cares, content in trusting that all things indeed will work together for our good (1 Peter 5:7).
Now I accept where I am and through my acceptance I have experienced great joy and happiness, right where in am, just like Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4. God truly has pulled me from my slimy pit of discontent and through trusting Him, I have a firm rock to stand upon. He has put a new song of gladness in my mouth, and I will wait patiently, contentedly, through this season of my life.
The great faith I witnessed from the lady I visited and the friendship and wise council she offered me, were life saving and something I will never forget to share with others.