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The waiting is the hardest part

I’ll just go ahead and tell you that you will hate this column.

I’m sorry, but one of the most important things we all are invited to do is also one of our most despised activities – waiting.

Yes, I know. You and I both hate waiting, and the rate of modern commercial responsiveness and instant communications only makes this worse. Remember when the best shipping and handling times were four to six weeks? The custom now is what – less than four to six days? And if you live in a metropolitan area – four to six hours?

We hate waiting in a world that wants to make things faster and faster. Sure, there are plenty of things that need to get done with the greatest promptness, like critical medical procedures, but there is also so much of our lives that requires us to wait, and it stinks. We wait all the time in so many situations. We even have rooms in medical facilities named for waiting. We wait at home, at school, at work, on the road, for big things and little ones and for the holidays. Right now waiting is excruciating with COVID-19 dictating so much of our lives. Until the pandemic ends, we wait. Waiting is something required in every aspect of our lives whether we like it or not.

Even God wants us to wait. That could seem like the real doozy. Certainly, God must know how much we abhor waiting and yet puts us through this agony.

The same God who had the Hebrew people marching around in the wilderness for 40 years also asks us to wait, especially for God. If you enjoy doing word searches in the Bible, go ahead and search for the word “wait.” It might shock you just how often it shows up and in many significant ways. One of the most profound illustrations is the end of Isaiah 40. It is the people who wait for the Lord who will be renewed like eagles. Those who do not wait, well….

This should make us wonder whether we are actually waiting for the Lord or even know what that means. Waiting could be a critical part of our lives and a crucial element of our relationship with God. Wouldn’t it be useful if we could figure out a way to wait with intentionality and purpose as a spiritual discipline?

One day I am going to write a book about “faithful waiting.” Until then, you will have to settle for this necessary, annoying truth: God needs us to wait with faith, especially for God’s coming goodness. While we wait, we should do it purposefully, prayerfully, and in the confidence that God works all things for good for those who love God and who are called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28).

REV. DR. PETER SMITH is the transitional pastor for Farmville Presbyterian Church. He can be reached at pastorfpc@centurylink.net.