|Waiting for a special event to start, like a charity run supporting |
a good cause, is tolerable. But we still want to get on with it.
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!
|Our capacity for waiting in a line for food, |
however, depends on how hungry we are - and
what's next on the agenda.
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).