Posts Tagged ‘waiting’

waiting

July 21, 2010

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about life and her dreams and desires that have yet to be fulfilled. I was reminded how agonizing waiting can be.

Waiting slows life down to a crawl. It drags our emotions through the dust. It pushes us to frustration and despondency. It causes us to believe that God has forgotten us or that he doesn’t care or that he’s checked out of our lives and moved on.

Waiting for years and years for a longing to be fulfilled can cause us to become bitter and angry and cynical and caustic.

It can also move us to make choices and get things rolling in our own effort, in our own way, often with disastrous results.

I’m reminded of people I know who have married someone they knew wasn’t a good match, but in their desperation to escape singleness, went ahead with it – only to be heart-broken and devastated, emotionally and financially bankrupt.

We read about movie stars who want to be pregnant and have children but don’t want to be married, so they are inseminated by some male’s donated sperm and they selfishly get what they want, without ever thinking what’s in the best interest of that new life. The child is a commodity, like a purse or pair of shoes.

As a person who believes that Christ is the way to life and the world’s only hope, the One who forgives my sins and gives me a clean start and a reason for living, I also believe in his words, (the Bible), and choose to obey them, to live by them. I’ve learned about waiting, both by reading the Bible and by my own life experience.

Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Waiting takes stamina. It takes strength. Waiting is not a passive activity. You need to keep your focus, encourage yourself and be emotionally strong. Waiting is work, hard work.

Part of waiting is taking heart. That means to encourage and strengthen your resolve by reminding yourself of why you are waiting, and who you are waiting on. It helps to know the life stories of others who have waited well and have finally seen their longing fulfilled. Often, it doesn’t look like they expected, but amazingly, it’s even better than they could have imagined.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40:1

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5

There are people who see God as a cosmic kill-joy. They see him craning his neck, peering over the edge of heaven, watching every move so that he can zap any fun out of their lives and destroy their plans. That just isn’t God’s nature.

Isaiah 30:18 tells us, “Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.”

There is waiting involved in just about everything in life. A farmer plants seeds. There is a long time of waiting for the plants to grow and bear fruit. Investors wait and hope that they will see dividends, but there are many ups and downs in the waiting process. A husband and wife wait for the miracle of pregnancy and spend the better part of 9 months dreaming and anticipating and longing for their baby to come. We wait for the mail, we wait for the cake to bake, we wait in line at the grocery and for lengthy periods of time in the doctor’s office! We wait for a loan to come through and for weekends to come. Waiting is just a part of life. Why do we behave as though it is unexpected, unnecessary, unwelcome?

Some people are better at waiting than others. Some people are action-oriented and see waiting as unacceptable. There are times for action and for finding another route. But there are times when there is absolutely nothing we can do but wait.

During those times, it is helpful to quiet our heart and choose to listen for the whisper, the nearly imperceptible voice of God.

I love reading the Psalms. I am encouraged that the writer poured out his true feelings to God. He didn’t over- spiritualize his emotions. He didn’t pretend that everything was ‘Wonderful, Praise God!’ He was raw and authentic and desperate for God to take action. He was ecstatic at times and at others he was cursing his enemies and lamenting his woes.

Psalm 142:1-7 says,”I cry out to the LORD; I plead for the LORD’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed you alone know the way I should turn. Wherever I go, my enemies have set traps for me. I look for someone to come and help me, but no one gives me a passing thought! No one will help me; no one cares a bit what happens to me. Then I pray to you, O LORD. I say, ‘You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life. Hear my cry, for I am very low . . . .'”

You are all I really want in life. Wow. How many people say that?

When I was in the midst of chemotherapy, and sick and dizzy and miserable and despondent, I got to that place. I remember listening to a song, the words of which expressed that thought: “All I want is you, Lord, is you, Lord, all I want is you . . .”

Sometimes waiting is the best thing for us. It forces us to look at life with a new perspective and alter our expectations and values. When we are desperate for God to move on our behalf, we come to understand that all we really need is God. When we are at a place that medicine has done all it can do and it’s still not enough, we need God to intervene. We are right where we need to be. For the first time all the clutter of life and action and thought gets shaken down and we are left with the stark reality that all we have and all we need is God. If he chooses to rescue us, that’s ideal, but if not, we’re finished. Our earthly life is over. Every breath is from him. Every heart beat.

I can remember saying to God, “You are my only hope. You are my life-giver. You hold me in your hand. Please rescue me.”

Life is so much easier when we’re in control, otherwise we feel vulnerable and helpless. But feeling like we are in control of our lives is really an illusion. We really are dependent on God for every breath and every heart beat, whether we know it or not! So getting to a place of vulnerability and helplessness is actually not a bad thing. It feels awful sometimes, (okay, most of the time!) But it’s a good thing! When we feel helpless, we are prompted to think about God more. Then we cry out to God in earnest, and that’s often when he moves.  It’s too bad that it takes a tragedy or disease to open our eyes to the reality that we live in vulnerability every day. We are so very fragile, every one of us.

God knows we ‘are but dust,’ yet he “longs to be gracious to [us]; he rises to show [us] compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.” (Isa. 30:18)  Wow, we are blessed because we actively wait for him!

Be encouraged, my friend, knowing that you aren’t the first to wait on God, and you won’t be the last. We don’t understand his timetable, but we know that he is faithful and gracious.

It’s difficult to wait and to be patient. Take heart. Be strong. Don’t give up. Tell God you’re waiting on him and that you know you are completely dependent on him. Breathe out your stress and anxiety that comes from fear and trying to make things happen, and slowly breathe in his peace that comes as we trust him.

God is our source, our answer, our provider, not the president, nor the economy nor our employer, not the doctor or our our medicine or anything else other than the Maker and Sustainer of Life.

Like King David, let’s say to ourselves, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God!” (Psalm 42:11)

waiting

January 22, 2010

I’m waiting to hear from my boss if I’ll have my job past mid-February. I’ve been a “holiday” hire for two years in a row at Pottery Barn. I adore my job. I absolutely love it! I’m also gaga over the discount, but that’s not the only reason I love working there. My fellow employees are friendly and kind and helpful and genuine. I don’t know if I’ve ever enjoyed a job so much. Of course I don’t face the challenges of being full-time, and there is enough variety of tasks and continual change of scenery from week to week that I never get tired of it. Working in a beautiful space is wonderful. Working with nice people makes the experience over-the-top!

So, I’m waiting, just like I did last year this time. The economy, corporate decisions, percentages – these all play a part in determining if I’ll get to stay on. They were the reasons I wasn’t able to last year. It’s all fine, and I’m good either way, it’s just the waiting and wondering that get old. Just knowing the outcome would be so helpful. I could plan.

It’s kind of like waiting for the fog to lift and the sun to come out again. I can’t remember it not being frosty or foggy! After a week of gray, messy, misty, fog-filled days I’ve nearly begun to believe it’s always been this way and always will be.

This kind of waiting is nothing compared to waiting for a loved one to return from Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s cake compared to waiting for a diagnosis. And perhaps the most brutal of all experiences was waiting and wondering if my living nightmare would ever end.

I’ve endured enormous amounts of waiting in the last five years. Waiting for chemotherapy treatments to be over. Waiting for my body to heal after surgeries. Waiting to feel like myself again. Waiting for my sorrow to subside.

Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

The first and last phrases make sense – we can be joyful in hope because hope is a joy-filled thing. We can be faithful in prayer, because it’s do-able. But patient in affliction? Patience when we’re in pain? Patience when we are agonizing over something? Patience is not something that most people have an abundance of, especially in affliction.

When I was fighting the cancer battle, the only thing I had in abundance was time. It’s kind of ironic. Fighting cancer, the predator that could rob me of all my time on earth permanently, was the cause of me having so much time – not doing the things I wanted to be doing, but plenty of it just the same. I had ample time to ponder my predicament. Time to fear and fret. Time to weep. Time to wait in doctors’ offices. Time to rest and heal.

Waiting does not equal patience. We can wait impatiently. We can try to fight waiting but we can’t change the fact that we wait. Sometimes there is no way around a predicament. The only way through is the way of waiting. Waiting patiently in affliction is an art that many never learn. Being joyful in hope and faithful in prayer are the means of learning that art and attaining that goal.

Remember the saying, “If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em!”? That’s the concept I’m talking about. Fighting against waiting is second nature, it’s natural, but it’s also counter-productive. You expend too much energy fighting and fretting and worrying and being angry. That isn’t healthy physically or emotionally or spiritually!

If you have to wait, then work it. Make the most of it. Build anticipation (hope) by finding things to be joyful about. If you can’t pray, ask people to pray for you. I did. When I couldn’t be hopeful, or joyful, I had to depend on the hope of others. Eventually, I began to hope. I spent my time trying to be patient while others spent their time praying for me and hoping. Their faith and hope was contagious.

Impatience breeds anxiety and stress. Patience brings peace.

Fight those battles you can win, definitely. But why fight what you can’t win? You can only win a waiting war by surrendering – patiently.