“Mr. Ward, we’re going to have you go to Room #3…”
I’ve already been waiting for awhile in the doctor’s waiting room and now, I sit waiting in the examination room.
I’ve had to do a lot of waiting over the years as I’ve faced cancer and then a progressive, terminal illness with my son. If you’ve ever been to see the doctor, which I’m assuming you have, you know what I’m talking about.
Stepping into a hospital means that you’ve stepped through a worm-hole where time has no meaning and via the medical time warp things…slow…down. I remember waiting for a CT scan. I was in a medical gown which conveniently had an opening all the way down the back to make sure I wasn’t overheated and wasn’t tempted by pride. No one can be prideful when they are sitting in a wheel chair wearing only their boxer shorts and a hospital gown. And since the hospital was under construction, the official waiting room for Radiology was unavailable so I ended up waiting in the cold hallway.
Sidenote: if I ever get a large inheritance (Mom and Dad?) I’m going to donate some of the money for the “Samuel M. Ward Waiting Room” in that hospital!
All that to say, I know my way around a medical waiting room. And all that experience doesn’t make me enjoy them any more than you.
I hate waiting. Period.
And that makes it ironic that I am in yet another waiting period…
The good news is that I’m not the only one. I think God knew I would be right here so he put a lot of waiting in the Bible. Throughout most of biblical history, God’s people ended up waiting more than they saw God’s miracles. And the waiting wasn’t easy. Most of the time they were waiting in serious situations with death, disease or dangerous armies all around. We see this expressed emotionally in the Psalms. Did you know that waiting is the most common experience expressed in the psalms? Many times it seems like God is not present and that grief causes us, the psalmist and even Jesus to cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
What I’ve realized is that all this waiting isn’t in vain. It isn’t pointless and it’s not just a passive state. God is doing something in us through the waiting. God wants us to keep seeking him. He wants us to keep looking for him and wanting him even when we don’t sense his presence close by. Seeking God in your pain is one of the highest forms of worship, I believe. When we are in the valley and continue to look for God we aren’t just saying that God is worthy of praise, but we are living it out.
Paul says in Romans 5 that
…suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
I didn’t understand this verse before. Sure, I understood the progression, but what I didn’t understand was that the word “perseverance” means waiting, seeking, longing. We read over that word so quickly, but perseverance takes time to develop. And it’s during that time of active seeking that we develop character and hope.
Realizing all this is one thing…living it is quite another. I’m not an official theologian. I’m not a perfect saint. I still HATE waiting. But I’m trying. It’s hard, but I’m trying…to wait.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.
–For more thoughts on waiting or lament Psalms, check out Mattew Jacoby’s new book, “Deeper Places” by Baker Books.