I have done my share of waiting in an airport. I’m kind of paranoid about missing my flight, so I typically arrive really early to the airport to ensure that there is no way I can miss my flight. In fact, when I went to Israel a few years ago, I took the train to the airport and arrived 3 hours before I could even check-in. I believe I was there 6 hours before my flight was scheduled to take off. So when my flight is delayed for whatever reason, I tend to have a ton of time on my hands. I remember a number of years ago, my family and I were headed to Canada for a family vacation. Our flight was delayed hours and hours. To the point where our flight took off when our connecting flight was supposed to take off from Toronto. It was certainly a lesson in patience and waiting. I bring this up because I think the airport is where we are most acutely aware of this whole idea of waiting. It seems normal for people to show up to the airport ready to wait with tablets at full charge and books on their kindle. It always seems ironic because we expend so much energy to get to the airport only to end up waiting hours. Yet isn’t this how life is sometimes? We expend so much energy to get to a certain place in life only to find ourselves waiting for something else. We’re waiting for that right person to come into our lives. We’re waiting for that perfect job to come around the corner. We’re waiting for a baby. We’re waiting…
We’re not alone
We all know that waiting is nothing new. As I have been reading through scripture this year, I have been struck by the theme of waiting. Abraham had to wait for a son. Moses waited in exile. Israel waited for a deliverer in Egypt and then again waited in the desert for the promised land. You see it is a common theme throughout history. It is a stage of life or a position that we all seem to be able to relate to. We’ve experienced the frustration of waiting and the joy of finally being through it. At the same time, we also understand almost implicitly that there is a distinction between waiting and waiting well.
There is a distinction between waiting and waiting well.
When someone waits well we are amazed at two qualities: their patience and their faith. Both of these things seem to shine forth. Think about someone you know who has waited well. They have a faith that seems to suggest that what they are waiting for will actually happen, despite any outward appearances. It is that hoping in what is unseen that shines forth. Then there is the patience which is perhaps rarer than the faith. Even those in scripture struggled with that one. Looking at Abraham there were many times where he despaired because he was still waiting on a son. The Israelites grumbled and complained even prior to their wandering. Moses even struggled with depression after dealing with the complaints of Israel time and again. Honestly, I resonate with their stories. Think about how it must have felt for Abraham to be promised a son and yet years come and go with no sign of a son. He was waiting for something that seemed unlikely to happen. Been there and I’ll admit, patience wasn’t my thing.
So how do we cultivate the patience and faith to wait well? Personally, I’m always inspired by those who have this assurance. Honestly, I think most of us probably have the desire to wait well, but the truth is that it doesn’t come naturally to us. Our first inclination is not to have patience, but to grumble that we aren’t where we wanted to be financially, personally, or even relationship-wise. We seem to be in a never-ending cycle of waiting and it drives us crazy. Here are a few things that I believe help us to wait well:
- Preparation – This may sound odd, but actually preparing in advance for what you hope for is part of waiting well. If you’re waiting for a promotion at work, begin bettering yourself so that you’ll succeed when you’re there. I remember a parable that was told in Facing the Giants. (I admit it, I’m a sap and despite the terrible acting and cheesy plot, I still tear up at this movie). The parable goes like this. Two farmers pray for rain. One goes out and prepares the soil and sows the seeds, the other does not. Which one truly believed the rain would come? When we’re praying and hoping for something, we need to show with our lives that we truly believe it will come to pass. Waiting doesn’t necessarily mean we have to do nothing. In fact, faithful preparation is key to waiting well.
- Remember – This is one of the most often repeated commands in scripture. It ranks up there with “Do not fear!” The reason for that is simple. If we remember, we begin to see God’s faithfulness over the course of our lives. We often lose sight of what has happened and get focused only on the present circumstances without seeing all the things that God has done. The Israelites are a prime example of the problem of forgetting. They saw God do amazing things in Egypt and led them out, but then didn’t believe that God would provide for them. When we remember we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and all the times where He has come through for us in the past.
- Seek God – Sometimes we miss out on an opportunity because our eyes weren’t open to it. We were so focused on waiting that we were blind to the fulfillment of it in front of us. We let opportunities go by because we aren’t certain or are waiting for that ‘perfect’ fit. Seeking God, helps provide the discernment we need in the midst of our waiting.
Waiting is part of life, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t live while we wait. We need to wait well with patience and faith. When we do that, we inspire others to do the same. When we wait well, we find that God is faithful to uphold his promises to us.