When my husband was in the hospital, he would sometimes refer to it as a “hotel.” After all, he had breakfast in bed every morning and a call bell to ring for whatever he might need day or night. At other times he would refer to it as a “prison.” He couldn’t leave when he wanted, and all of his time was controlled by the hospital system—one night he was just settling down to sleep, when he was suddenly whisked away for xrays at 10 p.m.
But finally after six long weeks in the hotel-prison-hospital, he was finally released to come home!! We had been expecting it for days, but something always seemed to come up: he needed just one more procedure, then xrays to confirm the procedure, one day his blood pressure was too low, some days one doctor would say he had “no problem” with my husband going home, but another doctor on the team would want to wait.
So we waited—and waited—and waited some more.
“Good thing you’re such a patient person,” some said in our circle of support. But I’m not so patient, I thought to myself. I was on a roller coaster of emotions, delighted in the morning at the thought of my husband being home, then disappointed when the decision was made to wait one more day. I was anxious to have him home as soon as possible, but when the doctors finally gave the all clear, I was anxious about that too. Was he really ready to come home? Or would something else come up to delay his release one more time?
These last weeks have reminded me that waiting is not only for those who are patient. Waiting is also for the impatient, for the stressed and distressed, for those riding a roller coaster of ups and downs. And now that my husband is home, I realize that in many ways the waiting continues: waiting for more test results, waiting for follow-up appointments. For us waiting has become a way of life.
In this pandemic, waiting has become a way of life for all of us. We wait to hear the latest COVID news, to find out the latest health orders and how they might affect us. We wait our turn at the grocery store, standing on physically distant circles marked on the floor. We wait for the time when we won’t have to do these things, when we won’t have to stay at home and keep other people out.
My church is waiting for the time when we might once again worship together in person as a congregation. With the start of the Advent season, we’re waiting to light another candle each week as we count the Sundays until Christmas. We’re singing songs of anticipation and waiting until Christmas to sing the full-fledged Christmas carols.
In Scripture, the Psalms are also full of waiting. At various times, the psalmists speak of waiting for guidance (Psalm 25), for deliverance from enemies (Psalm 27), for healing (Psalm 38), for wisdom and forgiveness (Psalm 39), for help (Psalm 40), for morning and redemption (Psalm 130). And whatever the particular circumstances of their waiting, in all things, the psalmists clearly “wait for the Lord” (e.g., Psalm 27:14; 37:7, 9, 34; 40:1; 130:5-6).
So too in our waiting today—whether we’re waiting for Christmas, waiting for the pandemic to end, waiting more personally for a loved one to come home—whatever we’re waiting for in our families and in the world, in a larger sense we’re also waiting for God.
We wait for God’s power to protect and provide for us. We wait for God’s presence to sustain us. We wait for God’s mercy to bring us safely home.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
– Psalm 27:14
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