This was not an anxious kind of waiting, but as I write these words my mind takes me back to times when waiting caused a measure of angst, feelings of uneasiness and deep concern. I remember sitting in the waiting room at Sick Children's Hospital in Toronto as our son, Scott was having lung surgery. The procedure took much longer than anticipated. After more than 3 hours Janice and I were the only ones left in the room, even the volunteer at the desk had gone home. That was a much more stressful time of waiting.
We experienced a night-long period of waiting when Scott was admitted to hospital during the early days of Covid; a night I feared for his life. I will never forget the night Andrea gave birth to Noah and Luke; they were so small, so fragile. We quietly wondered if they would survive those first few hours. Sometimes waiting is accompanied by moments of great fear and uncertainty.
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 part of hope. But interestingly, over and over again, the Bible exhorts us to wait.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7)
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)
I will wait for the Lord...I will put my trust in him. (Isaiah 8:17)
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:25-26)
On the ark, Noah waited for the flood waters to recede. 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 waited 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.
Waiting gives us time to think and reflect, and as I thought about my experiences, there are some things I have learned in ‘the waiting room’. While we wait, God is at work. Therefore, I must wait patiently, in humility and trust, because waiting ultimately gives way to hope.
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 am weary, beat up, worn out, when I’m tired, lonely or afraid, it is 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 is 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 wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31 - NKJV).