Learning to Be Patient When the Waiting is Slow
My husband recently had an appointment at the VA medical center that is a few hours from our home. Most people like us have to travel some distance to get to a VA hospital. It takes planning to make sure you make your appointments. You have to take into consideration the time of day, if it will be rush hour, the road conditions, and the weather, not to mention parking. It can take a good while to find parking and then make your way into the hospital. It takes work on everyone’s part to make sure they get themselves to an appointment on time.
And then we wait. I don’t think we have ever been seen for an appointment on time there. Sometimes the wait is long — very, very long. “Hurry up and wait” is the running joke. People laugh when they say it, people laugh when they hear it, but oftentimes people are pretty annoyed with the situation.
They hurried to leave their home on time, to drive the long distance to make it to an appointment at an exact time. Just to get there and wait. It is frustrating. We have heard our share of people’s frustrations overflowing. People get grumpy; people are impatient.
It was pretty quiet as my husband and I were waiting for his name to be called this particular day. Patient after patient checked in at the desk. A gentleman walked up to check in as the receptionist was busy trying to do several things. She apologized to him. And then I heard something I have rarely heard: he reassured her it was fine because he was in no rush. No rush. He said he had nowhere else to be and told her to just take her time.
Did I hear that right? It sure was refreshing to hear! People are always in a hurry and tend to get crabby when they have to wait. Maybe it’s making them late for other things, maybe they just don’t like to sit still. That sweet gentleman with his no-rush attitude really got me thinking, I sure would like more of that. I want to be able to say “I am in no rush” more.
I have been in a season of waiting, and I am sure you know what that’s like. We have all waited for important things and for not so important things. I’m not a huge fan of waiting, and I have never thought of myself as the most patient person. But I am certainly learning.
I have to laugh because in answer to my prayers for God to provide me with more patience, He has put many situations and long seasons into my life that require lots of patience practice. I guess He wants me to work at it!
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
Psalm 25:5 (ESV)
So instead of skipping all the slow, not-so-fun waiting, middle stages, I have to be completely in it. And that is right where I need to be. That is where the growth comes from, where lessons are learned. It may feel like all we are doing is waiting and He is not doing anything. Nothing could be further from the truth. He is always there, guiding, nurturing, preparing us, and offering us grace.
It is in that time of stillness when the most is happening. We need time to grow, and you can’t force growth. It may take a long time — much longer than we want — but God has a reason and until that reason is fulfilled, we will be in the middle.
There is always something to be waiting for, but in the waiting we are doing more than waiting. In those middle, slow stages of waiting, we can grow so much; we can strengthen so much. God does so much good work in the waiting.
Trust the work of God, even when it is slow.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14 (ESV)