Though most of us live our lives “on the go”, and many of us will travel far, the place we’ll spend perhaps more time in than any other is in life’s waiting room. Even Dr. Seuss recognizes this in his classic children’s story Oh, The Places You’ll Go: “Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plan to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.” It’s as if he’s pointing it out to both the child and the adult that waiting is a necessary component of any voyage.
Many of us feel we’ve spent a great deal of our lives waiting on God. Our petitions are many, our prayers may even be incessant, but God often seems slow to answer. One possible reason for this is God’s view of time, as the apostle Peter observes:
‘But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’
This same passage points out that though God may require us to be patient, we are the true beneficiaries of patience. Through waiting and hoping, we learn not just to lay our requests before the Father, but also to converse with Him, learning to trust that He will always faithfully respond, and always answer in a way that yields “the best possible results, for the most possible people, at the best possible time” (Chip Ingram). Eugene Peterson once summarized, “Waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”