The Agonizing Wait
By: Mark Mitchell, Executive Director of BASOM
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
This past week the world has witnessed a man who’s waited a very long time, over 70 years, to ascend to the British throne. This makes Charles the oldest and longest- serving heir apparent in British history.
How do you feel about waiting? I hate to wait. My image of hell is that of spending an eternity waiting in line. When I wait I grind my teeth, my blood pressure rises, my vision narrows, and my temper erupts. And so I go to great lengths to avoid waiting. I try to avoid the freeways at rush hour. I even try new routes from one place to another to somehow save a few minutes of needless waiting. It’s not uncommon for me to arrive someplace and say to my wife, “I made it in 43 minutes and 22 seconds. That’s a personal best!” She looks at me as if to say, “Who cares?”
Even though we may go to great lengths to avoid it, most of us are forced to wait several times a week – in traffic jams, in supermarket check-out lines, even at the Starbucks drive through. These everyday waits seldom fail to try our nerves.
But there’s another kind of waiting which is much more difficult. I think of the waiting of a single person for marriage, the waiting of a childless couple for a child, the waiting of the chronically ill for health or even death, the waiting of those in dead- end careers for a breakthrough, or the waiting of the lonely to simply belong. This kind of waiting is far more than just a minor, passing irritant, it’s a source of deep pain and prolonged heartache that drains us emotionally and spiritually.
One of the things that makes waiting of any kind so difficult is that we live in a world afflicted by “instantitis.” We want our fulfillment to come as fast as a McDonald’s hamburger. We esteem people who don’t have to wait. To not wait is often a sign of success, like the black limousine escorted by the police directly to the entrance of the stadium while the rest of us wait.
But the Bible clearly tells us that we all must learn to wait. Waiting is part of the normal Christian life. Over and over again, the Scriptures exhort us to wait on the Lord. Why? Because it’s worth it. The Lord is faithful to his promises. He DOES answer prayer. Some of those promises will not be fulfilled until we see him face to face, but they will be fulfilled because he is a faithful God.
It is also true that something happens to us as we wait. Waiting produces in us patience and perseverance, virtues which God highly values. In an article written by Sandra McCracken for Christianity Today, she compares the life of a Christ follower to the making of a piano or guitar. Both instruments begin as wood and take time, sometimes even years, to become worthy of playing beautiful music. God working in us, McCracken reminds us, is like a craftsman patiently waiting a year to see a piece of wood warp and bend to form the curve of a piano.
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.