When You are Waiting

Originally published Friday, 12 May 2017.

"We are going to need to biopsy this because it could be cancerous."

Had I not been sitting down, these words from my doctor would have pushed me over. Unexpected health problems always seem to knock the breath out of us, don't they? They take us by surprise. It's like the ground beneath our feet starts shaking. We look for something—anything—to grab onto to steady us. 

At least that's how I felt.

My doctor found a growth in my thyroid and sent me for a biopsy. (A needle in the neck—what could be more fun?). And then I had to wait for the results. For almost two weeks. Two weeks of thoughts swirling around my mind like a whirlpool; a vortex of frightening scenarios sucking me under. All those what if's? and I can't's! stringing together to form a line which then encircled my heart, drawing tighter and tighter. 

I think waiting is one of the most emotionally tortuous things we go through in life. But when you think about it, we are almost always in a state of waiting.

Waiting for the check to come in so we can pay the bill.

Waiting for a child to mature out of a difficult stage.

Waiting for love to blossom again.

Waiting for a job to open up.

Waiting for expected news.

Waiting to conquer a sin that besieges us day after day. 

Waiting for the sun to rise upon our darkened circumstances.

Waiting for change. Any change.

Waiting for a relationship to be restored.

Waiting for what's broken to be mended.

Waiting for health and healing.

Waiting for Christ's return.

Not to mention all the little things we wait for: the traffic light to change, our turn at the cash register, for the elevator doors to open, an email or text returned, dinner to be served. Waiting is something we do almost every moment of our life. With that waiting comes a variety of emotions: impatience, fear, uncertainty, worry, anticipation, despair, dread, and anxiety. I think most of us would admit that we hate to wait. And the more important something is, the harder it is to wait. 

In the Bible, waiting is looked at as something positive. As something good:

"The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD" (Lamentations 3:25-26).

"Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!" (Psalm 27:14).

"It will be said on that day, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isaiah 25:9).

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope" (Psalm 130:5).

It's not necessarily the waiting itself that is good, rather what's good is the One for whom we are waiting. When we wait, we wait for the Lord. God is faithful, good, sovereign, and true. All that He does for us is good and right (Romans 8:28-29). He keeps His word and all His promises come to pass (Isaiah 55:11). This is most evident in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He fulfilled all the promises of God, lived the perfect life we could not live, and died the death we deserved. The incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of our Savior shows us that God is a covenant keeping, faithful, and merciful God. He is why waiting is good—because He will show up. He will act. He will save. And all that He does will be good and exactly what's needed and for His glory. Therefore, we can take courage and have hope. We can find our strength and joy in Him—even while we wait.

The waiting is good also because of what happens in our heart while we wait. As we rest in who God is, remembering His word and His works, our faith is renewed. We see our dependence and need for Him in new ways. We realize our own insufficiencies, sins, and weaknesses and see the ways we've tried to live apart from Him. In our waiting, we come face to face with the gods we've erected and worshipped instead of the true and living God. Waiting then becomes an opportunity to grow in grace, to be transformed into the likeness of Christ. It becomes of the season of winter before the blossoming of spring.

Dear sisters, we are all waiting. Both in little things and in life-altering things. Both in the temporary and in the eternal. Let us not waste a moment of that time. Instead, let us be strengthened by the Word, focused in prayer, abiding in hope, and encouraging to one another. For all our waiting will end on the day when our Savior returns to make all things new. 

As for my own waiting, well, the biopsy was inconclusive. It looks like I'll need surgery. So my waiting continues. As I wait, I hope and rest in the One who is my salvation. "For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him" (Psalm 62:5).

If you are in a place of waiting, you might also want to read this prayer I wrote: A Prayer for When You are Waiting on the Lord. 

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