How many times have you been on a long drive with family when the familiar refrain from the backseat echoes: “Are We There Yet?” I have probably heard this hundreds of times as a parent, but also from my own lips as a young back-seat traveler on long road trips across the expanse of Texas. In a broader sense, we all ask the same question across a variety of situations: How long must I wait for a broken heart to heal? For the clouds of depression to lift? For the well-deserved promotion to occur? For justice to be served? For the relationship to be repaired? For the debt to be paid off? For the business deal to be completed? For the wedding to occur? For the sun to rise and warm the watchful sentry? “Are We There Yet?”
In the Psalms David frequently wrestles with God regarding the same question: (6:3) “And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord – How long?” (13:1) “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (13:2) “How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (74:10, Psalm of Asaph) “How long, O God, will the adversary revile, And the enemy spurn Your name forever?” As well, Joseph no doubt asked how long he must wait in prison. Job asked how long others would torment and crush him with words. Moses clearly had years of waiting in the desert. And no doubt you and I have waited for long periods of time with varying success; sometimes seeing the purpose in waiting, while at other times being quite impatient – as least I know I have been!
“Are We There Yet?” is a common human sentiment, particularly in today’s microwave culture. While the saying “Hurry Up and Wait” is often applied to military life, the reality is that we all have to wait. The issue is how to wait in faith, with patience, and with perspective and purpose. While this topic warrants a lengthier discussion (see Resilient Leaders, pages 131-140), let me provide a few thoughts about WAITING which are central to living a RESILIENT LIFE – God Style!
- Recognize that waiting is a critical skill for all of us. For Christians, waiting upon the Lord is an even higher imperative. Yet, how long does one wait? When does waiting become procrastination or paralysis? In essence, this addresses the question of timing: timing of one’s decisions and actions. Clearly, one seeks the golden mean between premature decisions with insufficient information and decisions which are late and impotent because of the temptation to require perfect information before acting. So how do we do this? How do we “wait” in the right way and for the right length of time?
- Assess available information to gauge when the decision needs to be made or an action taken. “Count the cost before building the house.” (Luke 14:28) “Know the status of your flocks.” (Proverbs 27:23) Or I Chronicles 12:32, which highlights that the men of Issachar “understood the times, and knew the way Israel should go.” We all do well to gather and assess the information critical to the timing and direction of our decisions and actions.
- Use the time of waiting to listen to God and others. “Seek the wisdom of many counselors.” (Proverbs 11:14, 15:22) Have confidence that waiting can renew your strength, and the Holy Spirit can and will reveal creative alternatives. No doubt we all have “dodged a bullet” by resisting the impulse to act immediately and listening to the counsel of God and others.
- Foster an obedient spirit. “Wait for the Lord, and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land…” (Psalms 37:34)
- Invest in JOY while waiting. Worship the Lord with expectation and gladness. “The joy of Lord is my strength” (Nehemiah 8:10) is not just a nice sound bite, it really works — often providing the oil of gladness that truly does give strength and optimism, even in the direst of circumstances. The truly resilient person recognizes the power of JOY to sustain and strengthen one during the toughest of times. Certainly Paul and Silas in prison demonstrated the ability to joyously “make the best of things” while waiting in shackles.
The character quality which most closely relates to “waiting well” is PATIENCE, a fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5. Oxford Dictionary defines patience as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.” I think we could agree that this is a trait we desire in self and others. Waiting often exposes the condition of our soul – patiently trusting and depending on God’s direction, protection, and provision … OR impatiently seeking to “make things happen” without discerning proper timing, decisions, or actions.
Colossians 1:10-12 highlights such PATIENCE as a desired trait of spiritual maturity (“walking in a manner worthy of the Lord”):
“10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and PATIENCE; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light”
We must all wait. How we wait is a matter of character and choice.
“Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”
May it be so for each of us — Resilience God Style!
Respectfully in Christ,