Waiting weighs us down and patience demands so much. Whether it’s excitedly counting the days until a loved one visits, dreading the time until a stressful meeting (or exam or paper), or simply biding time during an unbearable social obligation, waiting remains—interminable.
Yet, waiting is not always so mundane. Sometimes its requirements are writ large on our lives.
I think of my teenage self, lying in bed, trying to sleep, but shaken with pain. A throbbing discomfort welling up in my leg again and again. Just as sleep seemed possible another wave would pulsate out, indefinable—not the discomfort of the headaches or the sharpness of the cuts and scrapes I’d known before. Only after a few months, only after I’d (temporarily) lost my ability to walk properly, did they discover the cause of the pain: Crohn’s Disease.I think of a dear friend, who’s been suffering too long now, whose entire life for a year or so has been tragedy after tragedy and difficulty after difficulty. Family sickness, personal illness, strained relationships and emotional duress: no part of her life has escaped a year (un)worthy of Job himself. In her, I have seen someone who should be enjoying tastes of newfound independence thrust into an adulthood for which she was not trained, someone, who, very justifiably could scream out “why me” at any moment.
Friends keep us going. Prayer keeps us going. Love keeps us going.
But more than anything the recognition that we cannot control everything allows us to begin to accept the difficulties of life. We wait on them in the quiet acceptance that we are not omnipotent. God’s time, if I might be permitted that phrase, is not ours.
This is hard to remember in situations big and small—both when you’re lying in bed in pain and when your annoying colleague simply won’t stop talking. Yet we need it in both. Both are reminders of our humble status as human beings, of the patience needed to wait on a world that is always already beyond our control.