Playing the Waiting Game

Sometimes I feel like my whole life has been a series of waiting games, and my emotions fluctuate wildly depending on the anticipated outcome. When I was young, I waited with eagerness for my birthday and Christmas based on the excitement of presents and family celebrations. In high school, I waited with uncertainty for prospective colleges to respond favorably about my application. As an adult, I waited with dread for doctors to diagnose the extent of my mom’s cancer metastases. So when Psalm 27:14 says to “wait on the Lord,” without any clear metrics of how this should be done, the instruction seems rather ambiguous. As an engineer, I prefer quantifiable metrics, but waiting on the Lord sometimes evokes the idea of passively watching the second hand of a clock slowly tick for an indefinite period of time. 

However, this isn’t what the psalmist implied. Instead, the word wait encompasses a sense of hope with an expectation for fulfillment. Another familiar verse about waiting is “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). The metaphor is beautiful, and I’m fairly certain that we had this verse framed in our house, with the picture of a mighty eagle in the background. However, the reality of our Western society is to minimize or eliminate waiting. Our time is very valuable, and we’ve become accustomed to achieving things as quickly as possible. We pre-order items for pickup, strategize the shortest line at the grocery store, and eat instant microwaveable meals. I even remember my appachan asking a restaurant host to bring him “whatever was ready” so that he didn’t have to wait for his food to be cooked. We should definitely be good stewards of our time, but our cultural aversion to waiting has desensitized us to its inherent beauty. So perhaps it’s time to build up the muscle of waiting once again.

My recent experience of waiting was when I contacted Thirumeni on March 19, 2019 regarding the possibility of lay chaplaincy, but didn’t get commissioned until September 11, 2021. That’s two and a half years of waiting. During that time, I constantly felt like the process was dragging and wished that a decision could be made more quickly, but in hindsight, the timing was perfect. While I waited, I was being molded into a chaplain as I completed seminary, a year-long residency, and submitted my board certification application. If I had been commissioned earlier, I would not have been able to dedicate the time and preparation needed to be effective. Waiting for God’s timing is often difficult, but I believe that we’ll have a deeper understanding of God’s presence in our life if we actively wait on the Lord with a spirit of hope. As Psalm 27:14 says, may you also make time to wait on the Lord in this season of your life. 

About Pushpa Samuel