While We Are Waiting

By Mark A. Taylor

What happens to you when you wait?

You’re third in line at the grocery-store checkout, and the person at the register found the one item in the store with no price tag or bar code. Nothing else can happen till the teen bagger runs to and from the right aisle to verify the price. What are you thinking while you wait?

A company owes you money. It’s been seven weeks since you called them, but they told you then the check would be mailed in a month. How do you react?

Freeway traffic grinds to a halt for no apparent reason, and you can’t see far enough ahead to determine the source of the jam or the length of the backup. How do feel about your situation?

We may hate to wait, but the Bible seems to embrace some kinds of waiting. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him,” the psalmist advises (Psalm 37:7). “Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you,” adds Proverbs 20:22.

Last month The Wall Street Journal columnist Jared Sandberg considered detriments to office morale caused by waiting. He quoted workers who accomplished little or quit altogether because of waits they were forced to endure by slow-to-respond higher-ups.

One sentence in his piece stands out to me: “To better cope, some people try to dupe themselves out of hope.” For example, one frequent flyer gave up expecting her flights to depart on time. Once she became satisfied with just leaving sometime, her frustration with flight delays dissipated.

But the Bible connects hope with waiting.

“In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3).

“We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield” (Psalm 33:20).

We may expect human beings and man-made enterprises to let us down. But we can echo the assurance of the psalmist: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. . . . Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Psalm 27:13, 14).

Sandberg quoted researchers and human resource experts who have seen people-in-waiting make “dumb decisions.” Some employees quit in anticipation of a merger or a layoff, or out of frustration because a promotion has come slowly.

Some Christians quit too soon too. A lifetime of prayer hasn’t yielded the result they expected. A biblical promise seems impossible, because they haven’t yet seen it fulfilled.

Maybe this happens when we take our eyes off God and concentrate instead on ourselves. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

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