Bob Tamasy: Finding Ourselves Stuck In God's Waiting Room

  • Thursday, May 9, 2024
  • Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Ever walk up to a cashier who says, “Sorry for your wait”? The first time I heard that I hesitated, wondering if she was referring to what the scales told me that morning. Then I realized she wasn’t saying “weight.”

But many times we do wish people would sincerely apologize and say, “Sorry for your wait.” We’re an impatient people and hate being kept waiting, especially when driving. If we’re at a red light and the person in front of us doesn’t move the instant it turns green, we reach for our car horn to “wake them up.”

When road construction narrows a highway by a lane or two, we see “special” people speed along the berm to get a few cars further ahead. Why wait when you can cut in line, right? And when someone decides to take his or her good old time in the fast lane, we’re inclined to think or say uncomplimentary things about their ancestry.

But our widespread lack of patience isn’t limited to our time on the roadways. Who hasn’t started fidgeting while waiting in the doctor’s office, checking the time every couple of minutes, nervously tapping our toes, or imagining new symptoms we didn’t have when we arrived? Physicians may have patients, but their patients quickly grow impatient.

Self-checkout lines at grocery and department stores have become popular because we don’t have to wait behind people at the regular checkout line who dilly-dally, ignoring the conga line of shoppers behind them. Recognizing our proneness to impatience, Amazon has capitalized by offering same-day delivery in some areas. ‘I want it. And I want it now!’

Our aversion to waiting becomes evident when we’re ready to leave for a special event but our companion’s still in the midst of final preparations. We grow impatient for someone to answer whom we’ve called on speed-dial. Patience may be a virtue, but our collective lack of it as a society serves as further evidence that we’re not a virtuous nation.

So, it’s not particularly comforting for many folks to discover that waiting – and exercising patience – are important recurring themes in the Bible. They’re among God’s most effective strategies for fostering our spiritual growth.

You don’t want to know how many times the word “wait” appears in the Scriptures. The term “be still” is used more than a dozen times. And the words “patient,” “patience” and “patiently” combined are found more than 40 times. So, they must be significant for the Lord and His purposes.

In my favorite of the Psalms, we’re instructed, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7), and then for emphasis we’re told, “Wait for the Lord and keep His way” (Psalm 37:34). Verse 10 implies waiting when it declares, “A little while, and the wicked will be no more….” It doesn’t stipulate how long a “little while” will be. In the eyes of many of us, we’re still waiting for that.

What’s the purpose for all this waiting, this ‘being still’? Psalm 46:10 gives us a partial answer: “Be still and know that I am the Lord.” As we’re waiting, knowing we’re helpless – and maybe even feeling hopeless – to do anything about our circumstances, God is taking His time so that when the solution comes, there will be no question that it’s His doing.

Often periods of waiting have to do with suffering. Whether physical, mental, emotional or all of the above, we desire for our suffering to end. At such times, waiting and being patient are just the things we don’t want to do. But even in times of great adversity, God’s delays have a purpose.

Romans 5:3-5 states, “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” This informs us that suffering and waiting can be key ingredients for shaping our character and ultimately, our faith.

James 1:2-4 expands on that: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Reading that, I’m reminded of Hebrews 11:1 which affirms, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Couple that with 2 Corinthians 5:7, which asserts, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” we realize that God’s “waiting room” is an important part of His process for building and strengthening our faith.

If the Lord gave us whatever we asked for, whenever we wanted it, that wouldn’t require much if any faith, would it? But He isn’t our servant. He’s our loving, all-knowing Father who promises to answer all of our prayers and requests according to His perfect will.

Sometimes we have a need that must be met immediately, and God graciously meets it. As Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Other times, however, our ‘urgent’ needs are merely reflections of our impatience and reluctance to wait on the Lord’s perfect timing – never early, never late, but always right on time.

If you find yourself in God’s waiting room right now, keep trusting. The Lord certainly has something far greater in mind than to provide the answer to your prayers right now. In fact, He might even be preparing an answer you couldn’t have hoped for or imagined. I’ve experienced that many times in my life, even though admittedly, I’m still not good at waiting.

* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.

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