In the course of any life, I think, there are seasons of waiting. As much as we want to fast-forward to that thing we’re anticipating, we find ourselves faced with factors we can’t control, leaving us helpless against a clock we can’t set or predict.
It’s a vulnerable place to find yourself at the mercy of a calendar that’s not your own.
Maybe you’ve been looking for a job for so long that the taste of rejection is more familiar than your morning coffee. You send yet another résumé into cyberspace, and you wait . . . and wait some more.
Or maybe you’ve watched as all your friends have found love, and you find yourself alone . . . still waiting to be chosen, pursued.
Maybe you’ve been longing for a child—one from your own body or one from across the globe. You’ve jumped through all the hoops, and now there’s nothing left to do but wait.
Or maybe there’s something else you’re waiting for: for your house to sell, for the medical test results to come in, for a relationship to be reconciled, for deliverance from whatever demon has been plaguing you.
We all wait—there’s no avoiding it, no matter our life stage. Even if we get the thing we’ve been waiting for, it only means graduating to a new phase of waiting we hadn’t anticipated. So the question isn’t if we will wait; it’s how we will wait.
As I look back on various seasons of waiting in my life, I realize my waiting style leaves something to be desired. I’ve waited like a child in line at the grocery store: impatient, antsy, so focused on the line that I couldn’t appreciate anything else around me. I’ve waited like a robot, deciding it was too painful to admit my desires and hopes, so I tried to shut down my heart.
But the psalmist provides another alterative when it comes to how to wait: We can wait on God the way a handmaiden waits on her mistress:
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.
What would it look like, I wonder, to be that attentive to God in my waiting? What if, instead of being so focused on my circumstances or my worries or my fears, I was focused on every little move God was making?
What if I was intent not just on what God would do for me during the waiting as on what I could do for God?
I don’t just want to wait for him. I want to wait on him.
The waiting itself is beneficial to us: it tries faith, exercises patience, trains submission, and endears the blessing when it comes. The Lord’s people have always been a waiting people.