The Unseen Opportunity of Waiting


Throughout my life, my dad seriously injured himself on a fairly regular basis. I didn’t think anything of it - hospitalizations, broken bones, surgeries, pins, and plates were a fairly normal part of life at our house. Dad got hurt again? No worries - we had multiple sets of crutches and splints stowed throughout our old farmhouse.

My dad loved to tell the tale of one incident in particular. He was part owner of a sawmill and one afternoon while working alone, he accidentally got his finger caught under a log weighing several hundred pounds. With gritted teeth, he was able to extricate his mangled finger from under the log and drive several miles back home, hoping my mom would be available to take him to the hospital. 

Instead, he found that I was the only one home. He calmly explained the gist of the situation to my 12-year-old self and concluded with, “Okay. I’m going to lie down on the living room floor now and keep my finger elevated. I need you to sit here, watch me while we wait for Mom to get home, and if I pass out, call the fire department.” 

And so I sat. And watched. And waited for what seemed like an eternity. Finally I looked at him and asked, “So are you going to pass out or not?!” 

At this point in the story, my dad would shake with laughter and make smart comments about the ridiculous nature of what I considered to be a very reasonable question, everything considered.

This past spring, my dad was relieved of his pin- and plate-filled body and went home to Jesus. 

And once again, I find myself waiting for what seems like an eternity. This time, though, I’m waiting and longing for the day when I will be reunited with my dad, other beloved relatives and friends and most of all, Jesus. 

The wait seems interminably long. Waiting can often be a trial and be considered unpleasant, especially in a society fueled by instant gratification. It can also be downright painful and filled with trials and suffering. 

Waiting, though, is deeply embedded in God’s creation. Everything takes time. A farmer doesn’t plant his crops and expect a ripe harvest the next day. When I plant pumpkins in late May, I fully understand that they won’t be ready to harvest until September or October. When my husband and I found out we were expecting each of our children, we knew it would be another eight long months before we met that little person face to face. We live in a world that predictably has 24 hours in every day and 365 days in every year. God’s creation and timing can neither be slowed nor rushed.

I can’t help but sometimes wonder why a God who has the ability to create anything in an instant chose to create a world full of waiting. Here’s what I keep coming back to: waiting grows us. Romans 5:3-4 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (NLT) 

Waiting may seem passive, but there is so much unseen, active growth that can take place during the process. Waiting is an opportunity to develop endurance, strength of character, and confident hope. Waiting can grow us not only in Christlike character, but it also grows our faith and the hope that we have in Him.   

Advent is a season where we remember the wait of Jesus’ first coming - the trials and sufferings of humanity over thousands of years as they waited, endured and hoped for the arrival of our Savior. As we journey through this Advent season and beyond, may we take a page from the generations before us and grow in endurance, character, and hope as we wait for many different things: babies, spouses, healing, heavenly reunions, and ultimately, the second coming of our Savior and King.

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