Have you ever been to see the doctor? When you are young, or if you work for a company that gives incentives for healthy living, then you have been for an annual check up or physical. But for the most part we go to see the doctor when we are sick; something is wrong with our bodies.
Have you ever been to the doctor’s office and not had to wait in the waiting room? Doctors and surgeons book their schedule quite full, and if one appointment runs a little long, then ever subsequent appointment throughout the day is delayed! And I am not totally convinced that they do not leave us to sit in the waiting room just for the sake of it.
But when you sit in the waiting room, you get to watch all of the other sick people come through. You get to meditate on your pain. You have already admitted that you are sick and need help, and now while you anxiously wait, your brain has time to contemplate all of the life-threatening diseases or maladies you might possibly have. And now, in the day of Web MD, we can all search our symptoms and self diagnose our common cold as ebola on our Iphones while we kill time.
The waiting room.
Sometimes God ordains a season of waiting on Him. The Israelites, after God had led them out of Egypt, wandered in the desert for forty years. When God delivered the people out of Egypt, He brought them across the Red sea by parting the waters, and after they had passed through, the waters fell on the Egyptians who were following them, and all of the Egyptians drowned. Then God charged Joshua to lead the people into Canaan, the promised land.
“Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed. At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp…Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.’ And Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.”
– Joshua 3.1-2
God led the people of Israel across the Jordan River. He directed the priests to carry the Ark of the Covenant and to stand in the water, and at that point the waters were stopped and the people crossed over. But God let them sit on the bank of the river for three days. Have you ever sat in expectation of something – doing nothing else – for three days? I have not. I have waited eight hours for a VISA in a foreign country, but I have never sat in wait for three days. We want to make the most of our time and would leave and come back if possible. But God let them sit there, contemplating the fact that they had to get across a mighty, rushing river, and then go into a cosmopolitan area and take over – as vagabond wandering shepherds.
Sometimes the waiting is not just waiting. Remember Joseph? He was given a prophetic dream that one day he would be in ruling authority and his parents and brothers would bow down to him. He had to suffer years of slavery and then years of imprisonment to get there. Years!
Or King David. He was anointed king, and then after raising to military success spent years running for his life, just waiting for God to fulfill His word to make him king. He lived with the enemy, he lived in caves, and he ran for his life while King Saul hunted him ruthlessly.
For what are you waiting? If you are a follower of Christ, we are all ultimately waiting for His second return. For eternity. For the redemption of our bodies and souls, for the relief from sin and suffering. But is there anything not eternal for which you are waiting?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
– Is 40.28-31
When we sit in the waiting room, there are many things that we can do. We can focus on our ailment. We can google all of our symptoms and play mental games telling ourselves that our condition is terminal. We can fear all of the germs of all of the other patients coming through that will compound our sickness. We can get angry, we can walk out because we are tired of waiting. We can distract ourselves by playing games or reading a magazine or talking on the phone.
Or we can wait. We can consider the training of the doctor, the success he has had in treating our previous illnesses, the reputation of the clinic and the abundance of medications and therapies that have been successfully utilized to heal many other patients. We can hope and trust for the best outcome. Even in the midst of suffering and trials, when we are sick, when we are persecuted, when we are running for our lives, we can gain new strength through Him who gives freely.