My soul waits for the Lord. – Psalm 130:6, (NRSV)
When I saw Psalm 130 was today’s text, I said a prayer of thanks. After months of waiting to return to pre-pandemic life, I’d write a simple reflection on the joy to come when our waiting is over. “Piece of cake,” I thought.
I was wrong. Yes, the Bible has a lot of hopeful and joyful waiting. Farmers wait for rain. Old women wait for children. Israel waits to return from exile. Pregnant Mary waits for the baby Jesus. For Paul, all creation waits and groans like a woman giving birth. Biblical waiting is often pregnant with new life. But in Psalm 130, waiting is penitential, not pregnant. Its opening verse – “Out of the depths, I cry to you” – echoes Jonah’s plea inside the whale, when he could no longer flee from God’s presence, no matter how much he tried to follow his own devices and designs. Verse three confirms its penitential focus. “Lord, if you marked iniquities, who could stand?” may sound rhetorical and universal, but it’s personal. No one asks about “generic” inequities without knowing their own specific ones.
Like the psalmist, we also must face our own inequities in this time of waiting and be honest about pandemic’s hard truths: that its burden has fallen unequally and unjustly on communities of color, the poor, and the elderly. Like the psalmist, our waiting calls us to penitence.
Yet if we are willing to recognize such hard truths, then the psalmist proclaims, we will know God’s “steadfast love and the power to redeem.” In our waiting, there is the possibility of a better way, the way of new life for all.
Prayer: God, give us the strength to wait, and in our waiting, give us the courage to be honest. Amen.