This was not an anxious waiting but my mind went back to an experience of waiting in the surgical wing of Sick Kid’s Hospital in Toronto as our son, then 15, was having a surgical procedure on his lungs, which had partially collapsed from a series of spontaneous pneumothoraxes in the days leading up to this surgery.
Scott’s surgery was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. and we anticipated the procedure to take about an hour and half. We were taken to the waiting room, which was full of other anxious parents. The hour and a half passed and still we waited; two hours passed, then two and half hours. The room literally emptied. At six o’clock, we were the only ones left in the room, even the volunteer at the desk had gone home. We continued to wait; and I don’t like to wait!
Lewis Smedes writes, Waiting is our destiny as creatures who cannot bring about by themselves what they hope for. We wait in darkness for a flame we cannot light, we wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write. We wait for a not yet that feels like a not ever. Waiting is the hardest work of hope. Over and over again in the Bible – we are told to wait.
Psalm 37:7… Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.
Psalm 37:34…Wait for the LORD and keep his way.
Psalm 40:1… I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.
Psalm 130:5…I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
Isaiah 8:17… I will wait for the LORD…I will put my trust in him.
Lamentations 3:26… it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
On the ark, Noah waited. Abraham and Sarah waited for the birth of their son; for 24 years they waited for the son of promise. For 400 years God’s people waited in bondage in Egypt. They waited 70 years in exile. God had promised a Messiah, but at the end of the Old Testament God’s people are still waiting. They wait another 400 years while God seemed to be silent.
Jesus came and lived among us, taught with authority and worked miracles. His followers waited for Him to restore the Kingdom; to overthrow an oppressive Roman government. But he was crucified and still God’s people lived in poverty and oppression. After the resurrection, before ascending to the Father, His followers want to know, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:6)
Do you remember Jesus’ response? Do not leave Jerusalem but…wait (Acts 1:4). All through the pages of the Bible we are told to wait. In the final words of Revelation (22:20), Jesus says I am coming soon. Soon, but not yet, and so we wait.
On that Wednesday afternoon in the waiting room at Sick Kid’s Hospital, we waited to hear the words, ‘everything went well, Scott is fine’. Those words came around 6:15 p.m. and we saw him a short time later. Scott would spend 15 days at Sick Children’s Hospital and the summer months recovering. This was not last time we would wait; two years later he had more surgery on his lungs and once again we found ourselves in the waiting room. And since then there have more times of waiting! Many of you can relate, for you to have been spend time in ‘the waiting room’.
Waiting gives us time to think and reflect and as I thought about my experiences of waiting, there are some things I have learned in ‘the waiting room’.
1 – While we wait, God is at work.
2 – Therefore, I must wait patiently and with humility.
3 – Because waiting ultimately gives way to hope.
God is at work while we wait and therefore waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be. What God does while we wait, building in us perseverance and character and hope, is just as important, perhaps more
important than what it is for which we are waiting. Waiting is a confident, expectant but sometimes painful clinging to God. It is a day-by-day decision to say, ‘God, I trust you, no matter what’. I must trust that God has good reasons for saying ‘wait’; that God knows what He is doing. I must trust His wisdom and His timing. Even though it’s hard, even though I may be afraid, even though I may not understand, I will trust His heart, for He is faithful and good.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)
When I’m weary, beat up, worn out, when I’m tired, lonely or afraid, it’s not the time to give up, bail out or turn away from my God. It’s the very time I need to run to Him, for He is our refuge and strength. (Psalm 46:1) Isaiah says …Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:30-31) Waiting gives way to hope. When we wait faithfully, with eager anticipation, when we wait with patient trust and humility, we discover He is faithful; God sees and God cares! And that enough; that’s enough for me!
There are some tremendous benefits from being in God’s waiting room. When it seems like everything is falling apart and our strength is gone, that’s when we discover our God is mighty and strong. He holds us tightly until the storm is past, until our hope is renewed.
Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. (Isaiah 40:31)