And God Said, "Wait": A Meditation on Psalm 130
Oscar Wilde "De Profundis"
Psalm 130, the De Profundis, is my favorite Psalm because I think it so adequately highlights the state of life for the human individual, and so rightly captures the essence of “waiting for the Lord”. The concept of waiting for the Lord is of primary importance for the life of the Christian for numerous reasons. Firstly, it points to the nature of revelation as progressive and non—immediate. God cannot possibly reveal to us the whole of revelation in our lives because we would not, as humans, be able to either understand it or accept it. And so God reveals it slowly so as to patiently wean us off our own wills and onto His. Secondly, it points to the Theological Virtue of Hope, which is of essential importance both in this life, and for those of us who go to Purgatory. Other virtues I see to be wrapped up in this idea of waiting are patience, an allied virtue of fortitude, and humility, an allied virtue of temperance. Finally, this waiting must be done with an attitude of prayer, and with love for God and his will.
The De Profundis starts off by exclaiming “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord hear my plea.” This is very telling of the human condition, which itself is in the “depths” of being. Because of our state of sin and disunion with God, we are ignorant of true reality until it is revealed to us, and we are left in an existence of darkness and uncertainty. This is what it means to cry out from the depths, to plea to God for revelation and forgiveness of sins which separates us from him. My favorite part of Psalm 130 is the stanza in which it states, “My soul longs for the Lord more than watchman at daybreak. Let watchmen count on daybreak, and Israel count on the Lord.” This statement truly is profound in that it states absolute certainty in the coming of the Lord. It states that for Israel (the Church and its people), the coming of the Lord is more certain then even the coming daybreak! Oh such Faith and Hope in the Lord. And this is where the Theological virtue of hope enters—hope, being the certainty of God’s covenant being fulfilled, has more confidence than even the scientific and experiential certitude that the sun will rise again tomorrow. Traditionally, we have hope in God’s forgiveness of sins, and thus our receiving eternal life. However, I posit that, in this life, we also have certitude that God will reveal to us everything that we need to know. This seems to be a pretty obvious statement, for why would God not reveal to us that which we need to know in order to fulfill his will. But in our human fraility, we frequently doubt God’s intention to reveal to us his will or plan, primarily because we are impatient.
In Virtues and in Prayer
This finally is where the virtues of patience and humility enter. We must be patient with God. He knows us better than ourselves and so we must be prepared to bear the burden of the unknown until He sees fit for us to know it. This patience also entails an element of humility, because it will be the humble person who realizes that they are finite, and that God knows better than he or she. It will also take a humble person to realize that they may have a lack of patience.
Often in prayer I ask God, "what is it you are calling me to do, Lord". Most of the time God answers with "wait". I find this usually the case especially when discerning one's vocation. Often time's we are so eager to do God's will, or even just know what it is so we can be put at ease, that we forget who's will we are actually doing. God's vocation is bigger than us, and thus we cannot possibly understand in our own time, but only in His.
Waiting for the Lord is necessary because from the depths we are crying. Indeed God hears our pleas, and he cries out to his children to wait until the appointed time for his revelation. God will always comfort us and always tell us what we need to know, sometimes it just takes time. It is then when we must offer up whatever suffering we may be enduring, in order to come into better union with him and eventually be lifted from the depths and into the eternal light.
© 2009 R D Langr