Peace In The Waiting
We’ve been at the hospital all morning, sitting in a waiting room. Some designer attempted to make the room cheery—speckles of primary colors decorate the floor tiles, and the chairs are upholstered in upbeat violet. It’s a bit like sitting in a bowl of Skittles. But the smell is somewhere between printer toner, hand sanitizer, and anxiety. Personally, I’d have opted for hammocks and chocolate.
I wonder why the designer had kids in mind, since it’s mostly parents who sit in here and wait, wait, wait. We wait for news, for answers, for someone to help us figure out what our kids need to lead healthy lives. And it’s hard not to worry.
I’m not here for an emergency, thank the Lord. We were at the ER last week with the same child in the midst of a hundred babies and children who had varying stages of the flu and broken bones. And just like today, we spent the greater part of the day waiting.
It seems like much of my life in the last few months has been spent in different cheerily decorated waiting rooms to find some sort of answers as to why my once-vibrant teenager has turned into a pain-stricken little old lady. But still we have no answers.
But maybe that’s not a bad thing.
When everything is rolling along well, we tend to plan out our carefully crafted versions of how our lives should go. And rarely in those projected futures, do we imagine waiting with so many questions.
Today, my future is full of what if’s and question marks, but I’ve realized something important: there is often peace and blessings offered in the waiting that we might miss otherwise.
For example, have you ever felt like you always pick the longest line at the grocery store? I can look at every line and calculate the number of items in the carts and feel positive that I picked the best line, and STILL, I seem to pick the lane where the computer breaks down or someone needs a price check. If picking the longest line was an Olympic sport, I’d be a gold medalist.
Case in point: the other day, my mom and I went through the Chick fil A drive through. This particular restaurant is so popular in our Ft. Worth suburb that they have two separate lanes for cars. Mom and I pulled up and when we got to the point where we had to choose between the two lines, our discussion covered how fast the lanes were moving, how many cars were parked on each side, and how many people occupied each car. Finally making our choice, we pulled forward…and waited while no less than five cars zoomed through the lane next to us. Apparently, the person in front of us was ordering for twenty people.
Mom and I did some grumbling about the time we had to wait and then a thought struck me. I asked her if she remembered the last time she picked the fast line.
She spent some time thinking then shook her head. I couldn’t either. That’s when I realized how much waiting, disappointment, and failure can teach us. We don’t take time to think about much when we are sailing through the fast lane. We might take a moment to smile or possibly gloat (just keeping it real here), but usually we are simply focused on what needs to happen next. When we are seemingly moving forward, the waiting is inconsequential to us; therefore, we don’t focus enough on the moment for it to imprint on our brains. In other words, we don’t learn as much.
As I sit here in this season of waiting for medical answers, I have a few choices. I can despair and compare, or I can seek the Lord’s perspective. I can allow the stillness of this moment to imprint on my heart. I can seek the Lord and allow his word to wash over me and heal this anxiety. This is the blessing in the waiting, in the hurting, in the question-marks of the future.
We worship a God who sees us, who loves us, who hears our cries. And often it isn’t until I am forced to slow down that I take the time to truly seek him.
Philippians provides a frequently quoted passage, but don’t let familiarity lull you into missing the depth of the message. Speak it verbally, if you can. Reading scripture is important, but speaking it and hearing it really helps to pour it into our hearts.
Do not be anxious for anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Paul was writing to a group of people who probably understood persecution. After all, Paul himself was writing to them from prison. The Roman Empire was ruled by Nero, a man who murdered his own mother. A couple years after the writing of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Nero would blame Christians for the burning of Rome and go on to use them as torches to light his garden parties. This is a kind of persecution few of us can comprehend.
But even in the midst of all that, the Lord says to pray with thanksgiving. And when we pray, thanking God for all he has done for us, then the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Even in the midst of a season of waiting and questions—or perhaps especially in those seasons—God meets us there and pours himself into our hearts.
Note to self: don’t spend so much time fussing about the waiting that I miss the blessings found in the most difficult seasons of life.
May we learn to wait with joy and to find God and his peace in the midst of even the most difficult of MOMents.