November 29, 2022 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 130:5-8
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
As we wait upon God, we wait with hope. Why? Because of who God is, how God has acted, and how God has spoken. Most of all, we wait hopefully because of God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ.
This devotion is part of the series: Advent in the Psalms.
Sometimes we wait without hope. You may hope that your local baseball team wins the World Series this year. You’re waiting for that glorious moment of victory. But, half a season in, your team is struggling, near the bottom of the league. You realize that, barring a miracle, this year just won’t be the year for your team. So you wait, but without much hope . . . at least for this year. (If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you know something about this kind of waiting. Loyal Cubs fans waited for 108 years for the Cubs finally to win the World Series again in 2016 after their previous victories in 1907 and 1908.)
At other times, however, we wait with confident hope. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I described the intensity of my waiting prior to the birth of my son, Nathan. That waiting was not only intense, however, but also hopeful. I knew for sure that Nathan would come sometime soon. I knew that my wife, Linda, was healthy and strong and ready to give birth. I knew we had a fine hospital and an excellent doctor. I realized that sometimes things can go wrong during childbirth. But my waiting for Nathan’s birth was strongly hopeful.
In Psalm 130, the psalm writer gives ample evidence of hopeful waiting. He does this in several ways. First, he writes, “my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). Guards on night duty wait intensely for dawn and they do so with strong hope. They are sure that the sun will come up in time, even if they’re not sure exactly when that will happen. Similarly, the psalm writer waits for the Lord with strong hope. His hope isn’t wishful thinking. Rather, it is confident hope, a kind of blessed assurance.
Guards can wait with such hope because they know that the sun comes up every morning. Why, we might wonder, does the psalmist have this quality of hopeful waiting? More personally, why can we wait hopefully for the Lord?
Our passage gives us two answers. First, the psalm writer says that he waits for the Lord “and in his word I hope” (Psalm 130:5). God has spoken to the people of Israel through the words of the law and through the prophets. God has made all sorts of promises to the people of God, including forgiveness, redemption, salvation, and peace. When we are waiting upon God to do what God has promised in words to do, we can wait with confident hope.
The second answer to the question of why we can wait hopefully for the Lord comes in verses 7 and 8. The psalmist says, “O Israel, hope in the LORD!” Why? Why can the people have such hope? “For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem. It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.” The hope of Israel is founded securely on God’s nature as a loving, redemptive, powerful God. Similarly, we can wait hopefully for God because of who God is and how we have experienced God in our lives. We have witnessed God’s power to redeem. We know, in particular, that God will redeem us from all our iniquities. As it says in Ephesians 1:7-8, “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us.”
In Advent, we remember Christ’s first coming and wait for his second coming. In our waiting we have hope. Why? Because of who God is and how God has spoken. Because of who God is and how God has acted. Because of who God and how God has been revealed to us through Jesus Christ. We wait for Christ’s second coming with confident hope, not wishful thinking, because our hope is grounded on the nature, word, and action of God.
Though we don’t think of the hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” as a seasonal favorite, it expresses wonderfully the confidence we have through Christ, based on what he has done in the past and what he will do in the future. I’ll close today with this Advent hymn:
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
His oath, his covenant, his blood,
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found:
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand:
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.
(Verses 1, 2, 4 and refrain of “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1834. Public domain.)
How would you describe your hope in God? What is it like?
What makes it hard for you to wait upon God with hope?
What helps you to wait on the Lord hopefully?
Take time to reflect on how God has revealed to you God’s saving power and grace.
Gracious God, thank you for being a God who saves. Thank you for loving us steadfastly. Thank you for redeeming us and forgiving us. Thank you for making yourself known to us in word and deed. Thank you, most of all, for coming among us in Jesus Christ.
As we remember his first coming in this season of Advent, we also look forward to his second coming. We do so with confident hope, Lord, because of how you have revealed yourself to us, because of how you have acted, because of how you have spoken.
When my hope is failing, Lord, remind me of who you are and what you have done. When I feel myself sinking into despair, reach out with your strong arm to save me once again. When I feel alone and afraid, embrace me as a mother embraces her child. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: The In-Between Time: How Well Do We Wait?.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.