"It is hard being in the waiting room."
That was the end of her text message to me. A friend sending words of encouragement in a season of questioning, searching and yes, waiting. A reminder that God has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11) and then an acknowledgement that, in anticipation of what God will do, the waiting for God to move according to His plan can be a tough place to be.
It got me thinking about other waiting rooms in my life. An ER waiting room where my grandparents learned they'd lost a son. A cardiac waiting room where we endured hours of time while my father had unplanned, quadruple-bypass surgery because the surgeon said he was a "ticking time bomb." An OB waiting room during my first pregnancy where I agonized about whether some spotting I was having meant what we were most afraid would happen was actually happening. A major university hospital surgical waiting area awaiting word about my father-in-law's cancer diagnosis. Another floor in the same hospital years later praying a spot on my husband's CT wasn't a tumor. A pediatric hospital waiting room wondering if our son had an irreversible kidney disorder. So many, and yet, just a few.
Then there are the waiting rooms where I was waiting with. Like the family whose patriarch was facing significant cardiac surgery and they wanted me to stay and pray. The family whose matriarch was dying and they wanted me to just be there, cry together and pray. The friend who was having her first baby and I was racing to get there on time to wait with the whole gang and pray. The friends whose child was facing the possibility of losing a limb or the ability to walk again and they needed a voice to pray and a hand to hold. Again, so many, and yet, just a few.
So it's no wonder a simple text message resonated so deeply today, when I've landed in another waiting room. With one phrase, I began a series of flashbacks that bring me to my present. Decorate them how you want; a waiting room is a waiting room. So even though today's waiting room is the sofa in my living room and the pillow on my bed, the space is filled with the same emotions and needs.
The emotions are a mixture: anxiousness, concern, hope, joy, fear, sometimes anger. It depends on the things on which we wait. However, the needs are the same: comfort, presence and peace.
Why are both so universal? It's because waiting rooms represent uncertainty. And uncertainty makes us feel uncomfortable because we cannot see or manage the outcome, and we have to lean onto something else for stability. Stability equals comfort and peace. If things feel stable and secure, then I feel better.
The challenge is, for some, there is nothing to lean onto. Stability isn't present because there isn't someone present, there isn't any comfort, there isn't any peace. But for me, I lean on Jesus. I have faith in the God of heaven and what He can do, especially when I can't do anything.
Now, if I'm being real, faith feels much safer when I am certain. But if certainty comes in the things I can see and manage, then it's not so much about faith as it is control. From what I can tell, faith and control are diametrically opposed to one another.
The writer of Hebrews says faith is "the assurance of things unseen" (11:1). Sounds a bit contradictory, yes? Or at least paradoxical. How can I be sure of what I cannot see? How can I have confidence in what I cannot control? How am I supposed to believe in what is out of my ability to manage and dictate? Exactly. I must believe in One who can control what I cannot see. This is the crux of faith.
And faith is why I can sit in the waiting rooms of life, even when they are hard. Because when left to make and manage my own decisions, I cannot always trust I'll choose rightly. I hope I will. But I'm not perfect, and make my share of wrong choices. But I can trust the One who chose to create me (Psalm 139:13). I believe God is in control of my life and circumstances. He has a plan for my life -- and waiting rooms are part of it! He works all things together for my good (Romans 8:28). He knows my name, the numbers of hairs on my head, and every day He ordained for me. He knows what my gifts are, where they are needed, and what will make the most impact for Him.
If He knows all this, I don't have to know it all. I might want to, but it's good that I don't. Waiting rooms can sometimes become places where we make ourselves sicker worrying about not knowing the next steps. Who needs that? I don't.
So right now, I'm just waiting. Trying not to watch the clock. Just waiting. Emotions are vacillating, but all my needs are being met: I have friends that are present, who hold hands and pray and are just there; I have comfort from God's Word, and I have peace knowing someone more powerful than me is in control.
Are you waiting too? Pull up a chair, and we'll sit together.
"Wait on the LORD, and be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart. Wait, I say wait on the LORD!" - Psalm 27:14
Jesus follower. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Friend. Pastor. Learner.