Waiting and Hoping

By Jasmine Timm

My husband and I arrived in Michigan on a humid, Midwestern, Wednesday night prepared to spend the month with family. Less than 48 hours after our arrival, we were making drives to the hospital in a neighboring town to visit my 17-year-old brother-in-law, who lay in a coma in the ICU. We spent our first two weeks with family watching, waiting, and praying, hoping that my brother-in-law would make a speedy recovery. And by the mercy of God and the prayers of many saints, he recovered.

Rewind four years to a mild, Northwestern, Wednesday night and a similar scene was unfolding. My husband and I were with family, watching my 22-year-old sister, who lay in a coma in the ICU. But this time, there was to be no recovery. After watching, waiting, and praying for several days, I said goodbye to my sister. Although many faithful saints prayed for her recovery, God in His mercy answered differently than we had hoped.

In both cases, we watched, and we waited. Yet each case had a different story and a different ending. In Psalm 130, we catch a glimpse of the Israelites story as they watch and wait. We hear the psalmist lament:

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!”

Psalm 130:1-2

He cries to God “out of the depths,” perhaps during one of the worst moments of his life. And what does he ask God for? Mercy. He asks God to respond compassionately in his moment of greatest need.

As we continue to read the psalm, we learn a bit more about what the psalmist requests. With an awareness of his own sin, he asks for God’s forgiveness to meet him in his hour of need. The psalm then moves to hope. As the writer watches and waits for the mercy of the Lord to meet him, he grows in hope that this gracious God will surely answer his cry for redemption from sin.

Like the psalmist, I have found myself in many seasons of watching and waiting. In the current age of our world, most of us find ourselves watching and waiting. Maybe we are waiting for loved ones to recover. Maybe we are waiting for a job. Maybe we are waiting for our joy to return. Regardless of what we wait for, we often find it difficult to maintain hope. As I reflect on my own seasons of waiting in the ICU, it is tempting to be overwhelmed by confusion. How do I hold out hope for young family members to recover from a coma? What do I do when one of them in fact does not recover, but dies too soon? What does hope look like then? The writer of Psalm 130 gives us a clue for the type of hope we are waiting for: 

O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Psalm 130:7-8

And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

As God’s people, we wait in hope for God to redeem us from sin. He will redeem us from our own culpability of sin. He will also redeem us from the physical curses and sorrows brought on by sin indwelling our world. It is not wrong to pray for deliverance from the depths. We can confidently pray for healing for family members, for jobs to be recovered, and for joy to be experienced, and we have evidence from both our own testimonies and that of the Scriptures that God does indeed answer us. 

Even when He does not grant our request, we have hope. We indeed have redemption from sin in Jesus, and we watch and wait for His return. We’re not necessarily waiting for all of our adverse experiences to be turned around now. Rather, we are waiting for the Coming One, and when He comes, all will be made right — even the heartaches and losses that seem to bring about nothing good. Waiting as a Christian can be translated as actively hoping. We have hope that God has indeed answered our cries for redemption in Jesus, and He will return soon to wipe away every remaining tear and crush every lingering sin beneath His feet. Because He is coming soon, we will continue to watch and to wait in hope.

For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay.

Hebrews 10:37, NLT