There is nothing quite as difficult as waiting. When we are in the middle of some particularly difficult situation, time appears to stand still. Our problem is exacerbated by our Western lifestyle and mindset, which often reflect our “instant” society. In America it seems we cannot bear to wait for anything. What is more, we regard instant service and gratification almost as rights.
Not long ago I found myself in such a place. As I hunkered down to wait my situation out, I couldn’t help searching Scriptures for glimpses of hope that it would all soon be over. I realized I was on a journey – the journey to “soon.” I couldn’t help but notice how often that little word soon kept popping up in my Bible readings, and I remember complaining petulantly to the Lord, “Not ‘soon’ – ‘now.’” I didn’t like being on the way to “soon” one little bit!
On one occasion I remember trying to comfort our two-and-a-half-year-old twin grandchildren, who were howling because their daddy had kissed them goodbye and was on his way to work. “He’ll be back soon!” I shouted soothingly. It’s hard to shout – soothingly – above twins’ screams, but I did my best. My best effort, however, did not alleviate the pain of parting, and I realized at once how stupid my attempt had been. What, after all, does “soon” mean to a two-and-a-half-year-old? When one is a toddler who loved Daddy very much, comfort is when “soon” turns to “now”!
Listening to the amplified cries of children in distress, I have discovered it’s the same for me. Like my grandchildren, I have real trouble with “soon.” Waiting is not my favorite thing to do, especially when I’ve waited for something extremely important – a child to be conceived, a teenager to give just one little hint that he likes belonging to me, a relative to come to Christ. But nobody knows how quickly “soon” will be except God, and He doesn’t tell! His knowledge is withheld not to tease us but to test us! Waiting for closure always exposes the caliber of my faith, the intensity of my patience and trust, and the shape of my character. But when I’m waiting for some particular, painful trial to be over, there’s bound to be some bright, well-meaning saint who lovingly, and often with ill-concealed satisfaction, comes around to tell me how much deeper I’ll be when it is finished. I want to scream, “I don’t want to be deeper! I want to stay shallow and have the huge hurt go away!” Perhaps you are on that journey today.
Job said, “When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job knew he was in God’s waiting room. That’s what that little word “when” means; it points to sometime in the future. “When” is not now. Yet on this journey to “soon,” we find something is happening to us. We are being “golded.” There’s nothing like the fires of affliction to put a gold glow on our souls – on our character.
Warren Wiersbe says, “God never wastes suffering. Trials work for us, not against us…God permits trials that He might build character into our lives.” Paul puts it very well in Romans 5:3-5: “We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Knowing that God is intent on painting us with gold sort of helps a little when you are “on the way to soon.”
May God give you the strength to persevere in your waiting room.
Just Between Us magazine