Saturday, August 27, 2011


For the past several months I have been trying to read through the psalms about every 4-6 weeks. I enjoy it and am surprised at how often I come across unfamiliar psalms, as well as familiar psalms that speak to me in entirely new ways.

Today as I was reading, Psalm 27:14 hit me between the eyes. It reads, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” I meditated on the verse for several minutes to let it sink in. You see, I’m a lousy waiter. I hate waiting in line. I hate waiting at traffic lights. I get wildely impatient when meetings don’t start on time. I am crabby when someone says they will meet me at a particular time and then shows up 15 minutes late. I could go on with my confession but I think you get the picture.

And although these examples of waiting might not be your pet peeves, it strikes me that 21st century Americans are not very good at waiting in general. We are instant gratification people, aren’t we? Fast food, fast cars, fast internet connections, fast phones….the faster the better. Waiting for an internet page to load in 13 seconds rather than 2 drives some people crazy.

Isn’t the psalmist’s command in some ways completely at odds with how we live? Wait.

And of course this is not the only such command in Scripture. It actually appears a number of times in the psalms, as well as in God’s commands to his people in various stories. One text even says it is good to wait for the salvation of the LORD(Lam. 3:26).

Good to wait??? What’s so good about waiting? I’m not really sure, but here are a few thoughts. Maybe waiting reminds us that we are not in control, we only think we are. Obviously, if I could be at the front of the line I would. But I am not in control so I have to wait. And the same is true with my relationship with God. Sometimes God’s answer to my prayer is not yes or no, but wait. I’m not always so keen on that, but hindsight being what it is, that answer has often been the case in my experience.

Furthermore, maybe waiting reminds me that I am not the center of the universe. There are other people whose schedule is just as important as mine. My need to get home or to a meeting or whatever is not inherently more important than the need of the person ahead of me. Thus, when the next line over opens at the grocery store, running over without regard to the person just in front of me who has also been waiting is not demonstrating love for neighbor.

I feel  a bit like I’m grasping at straws, however. I don’t like to wait and coming up with reasons why waiting is good really doesn’t help much. But in the rush of every day life, there seems to be something deeply important about learning to slow down, and even to wait. And given that waiting is frequently commanded by God only enhances this feeling. So what do you think? What is good about waiting?


  1. Nice post, Mary! Life contains different kinds of waiting. There is meaningless, waste-of-time waiting (the clerk at Meijers who comments on each of the 78 items the customer ahead of you purchased), rude waiting (the doctor whose office tells you to come 15 minutes ahead of your scheduled appointment and THEN keeps you sitting there 30 minutes beyond the scheduled time), but there is also event-full waiting. The latter is of the variety of waiting for a loved one to return from serving in Iraq or waiting to receive the very special present at Christmas that you have been assured is coming. This is hope-filled waiting, the kind of thing that makes people bounce up-and-down in airports in anticipation of the loved one coming through the gate. Waiting for God's goodness to show in the land of the living is like that: it's not easy to wait but WHAT we await is so splendid--and its reality so sure--that even the waiting is tinged with hope, joy, and love. And those are good gifts to nurture, too!

  2. Thanks, Scott. Yes waiting is an integral part of the virtue of hope. Hope is the recognition that we are "people on the way." We haven't arrived yet. And I LOVE you examples of good, eventful waiting! So true. And such a picture of how we should wait for God.