Waiting is something no one can avoid. No matter who you are or how you plan, things don't always happen on our timetable. Even with all the conveniences of a 21st century world, our schedules and desires are still based on periods of waiting.
In some ways, our expectation of sudden gratification has made the periods of waiting more difficult. I've seen this in small measure with my children. We don't watch regular TV at our house and we don't subscribe to cable or satellite. When we watch something, it is from a streaming service or a DVD. I hadn't thought much about it until the Olympics were on last February.
My children had heard people talk about all the events and how it was fun to watch. One day at breakfast, my daughter asked if she could watch the ice skating. I replied we didn't have anything that evening so we should be able to watch it. She looked slightly annoyed and said, I meant watch it now. And so began a conversation about live TV events and our need to wait for them to broadcast.
That evening, after a whole day of waiting for ice skating to come on, we had to watch a variety of other sports first and a conversation on waiting continued. Once the long awaited ice skating started, there was more waiting in the form of commercials, another new concept for my kids. Those two weeks taught my kids much about waiting and patience.
While it was humorous to see their response to all that waiting, it made me realize what a change society has gone through in my generation. When we don't even need to wait for our TV shows to come on, instant gratification is daily at our door. Online shopping has made it so we don't have to wait until we have time to drive across town and look for a certain item. Fast shipping means we don't have to wait weeks for our purchase to arrive (there are exceptions to this but for the most part we don't have to wait over a week). Phones mean we don't have to wait to see someone to ask a question. Cell phones give us the ability to contact people away from their homes - we don't have to wait until they're off work.
The list could go on but we are now a society where waiting for everyday things is an inconvenience. But still we must wait to grow up, wait to hear about a job, wait for weddings and babies, wait for seasons to change. We never outgrow the waiting periods. And while time seems to move faster as we grow older, the waiting stays the same. It seems longest in times of trials and uncertainties. We wait for the answer and often the waiting stretches far longer than we want it to.
But waiting isn't a bad thing. Throughout the Psalms we read it is good to wait on the Lord (27:14; 31:24; 37:34; 130:5) and other passages mention waiting on the Lord's salvation (Lam. 3:26). With our limited, finite minds we can't see the end result of our waiting or know how long the waiting will last. We can't plan or control every aspect of our lives. No matter how we try, waiting is necessary in life.
But it's in the waiting that we come to fully trust and rely on God. When we don't wait for him to work or fulfill his promises, we are essentially telling him we don't trust him to work things out on our timetable or in our way. Abraham famously jumped ahead of God when he listened to Sarah and took Hagar to produce the son God had promised. But that's not what God had planned. God worked a miracle - allowing 90 year old Sarah to have a son.
A positive example is David. He waited years for God to fulfill his promise to make David king, even going so far as to refuse to kill Saul when he had the chance. Maybe that's why so many Psalms mention waiting; David knew first hand the difficulty of waiting but also the benefits of trusting God to work it out.
No matter what we are waiting for in our life we have the reassurance that God knows what is happening and how long the answer will take. And we can rest in his timing and his way.
Photo by dawid zawila on Unsplash