In today’s society, wait is among our most-hated words. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a line at the bank, the grocery store, fast-food restaurant, retail store, the gas pump, or the post office. Especially at the post office! We don’t like waiting. “Time’s a-wasting. My life is starting to pass before my eyes!”
No one has time these days for waiting. No wonder the lurching launch of Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care Act, stirred such frustration. If people are supposed to sign up for it, they certainly don’t like having to wait to do so.
FedEx, the Internet, email, text messaging, even the almost-extinct fax machine, all have come about in part because of our reluctance to wait to communicate.
The adage said, “A watched pot never boils.” Today it is “a watched microwave never beeps.” If we’re online and click on a web link, we don’t want to wait for it to appear. We expect it to leap to our screen instantaneously. If we have to download computer software, we wring our hands as we wait for it to finish. So super-fast connection speeds are essential.
And I hardly need to mention the frustration of having to wait in a traffic jam. We’ve all been there and know it too well. Is it a traffic accident, construction, malfunctioning signal? It doesn’t matter. Just don’t make me wait!
Because of the ever-escalating pace of life, patience and the capacity for waiting have become lost virtues. TV programming and commercials consist of images rapidly changing every few seconds so we don’t lose interest. Theme parks have special express lines for people who don’t appreciate the thrill of waiting 30 minutes or longer for popular rides.
But the fact is, much of life is devoted to waiting, often for good things: Anticipating a happy event, such as a wedding, the birth of a baby, an important ballgame, a birthday or anniversary, or Christmas. Applying for admission to college and waiting hopefully for a letter of acceptance. Interviewing for a job, then awaiting a call back. Having a medical procedure done, especially for a potentially serious problem, and then waiting for the results. If the wait ends with a good report, we consider it worthwhile.
So is it any surprise that God in the Scriptures often asks us to wait? Over the years, in facing a variety of slow-to-resolve issues both at work and at home, I’ve often meditated on Psalm 37. I found it comforting, reassuring – and troublesome – to read, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (verse 7) and “Wait for the Lord and keep his way…” (verse 34).
King David, who wrote many of the psalms, must have spent a lot of time in God’s “waiting room,” since he also penned passages like “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14). When we read something like that, we want to respond, “Yeah, David, that was easy for you to say!”
However, he also made it clear the waiting was not futile, that his trust in the Lord’s timely response was rewarded. That’s why David could write, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:1-2).
Does God have you in His waiting room? Or have you been there recently? I’ve spent much time there myself. Most of the time it’s proved well worth the wait. Is waiting easy? No. Is it fun? Not at all. If we’re willing, when He asks us to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), we can be assured He has a good reason for doing so.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.