Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. (NLT)
Waiting is so very hard. We wait in an uncomfortable present for a future we cannot control. We wait for a ‘not yet’ that feels like a ‘not ever’. Waiting is hard because we live in a world where we may expect more or less instant gratification. God, it seems, is not as intent on that as we are.
Waiting is also hard because it is so often tied up with ‘wishing’. We wait for what we wish to happen. And so often we can’t work it so what we wish to happen will in fact happen. So our waiting becomes filled with anxiety and fear. When what we wish for does not eventuate, the whole waiting period is seen as a time of futile frustration.
It seems best to have a sort of open-ended waiting, whereby we wait expectantly for what God is going to do. Instead of focussing on our wishes we focus on hoping: a confident trust that God will be good and do good. And we let him determine the shape and the timing of that goodness.
This enables us to live fully in the present moment even as we are aware something new may unfold in the future. By anxiously trying to control the future and childishly insisting that God fulfil all our wishes, we lose sight of what God might be doing in the present. We pay attention to the present rather than worrying about the future.
In this way, waiting doesn’t stop being a challenge, but it can stop being an exercise in fear and frustration.