“It’s hard to wait,” the sweet four-year-old complained. “I have to wait for my Grandma, I have to wait for school, I have to wait for dinner…it’s SO hard to wait!” I had to agree. I wish I could tell her that waiting gets easier, but it doesn’t, really. When waiting gets intense we are tempted to “freak out.”
In I Samuel 16-20 we find David on the run from Saul. What a confusing set of circumstances! God instructed Samuel to anoint David as the next King of Israel, but for years David waited. While David waited the current King, Saul, definitely had some spiritual issues. The Scriptures explain that as Saul increasingly grew more jealous of David, Saul began to put his trust in himself, rather than the Lord. An evil spirit tormented Saul. Our decisions here on earth certainly cause much warfare in the spiritual realm. Saul acted bi-polar in his reactions to David. He loved David, then threw a spear at him. For years David had to wait for the fulfillment of what God promised, and in that waiting time David encountered difficult problems. Yet, in these times David learned to find his peace in God.
Learning to wait calmly increases our ability to be patient…but it is not easy! There are always things for which we wait! When I was young I could not wait for my big brother to return from India. I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school, and you know, the list goes on. But as we grow in our faith we see the benefits of waiting, painful though they may be. We learn incrementally to trust in the Lord when things don’t go our way. We wait in pain and prayer when our friend’s cancer diagnosis hits out of the blue, or when a young person suddenly dies, when we see someone we love in emotional agony or when our personal dreams are shattered. In the confusion, in the mess, we learn to wait differently. We learn that the waiting is part of the journey. At many a juncture we are challenged to consider whether God is still good, and if we still trust Him when our world does not make sense. Waiting, we learn, is not a waste of time, or meaningless time but waiting is just as much a part of the journey as the destination for which we pray.
Isaiah 40:31a “Those who wait upon the Lord (trust in the Lord) will find new strength.” The ability to endure is developed in our souls as we wait. We are made stronger in the process. In the waiting room we learn compassion – a tenderness of heart for those who suffer in similar ways. And when we are able, at some point, to view waiting as an opportunity to rely upon and cultivate further trust in the Lord…then it’s a good day in our life of faith.
David’s waiting did not last forever. Times of crisis and times of pain have a beginning and an ending. The sun comes out after long nights of waiting. And if we have learned to wait in faith, our hearts come out more tender, more useable and embedded with His everlasting peace.