Waiting is Good?

“It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:26

Jeremiah, the weeping prophet wrote these words. And they come after he expresses his own soul’s trembling  anguish. He reminds himself of the Lord’s mercies, and concludes with these powerful words.  What struck me is his assertion that it is GOOD. He wasn’t just confident that he was waiting for a good thing, but that the wait was a good thing.

Now I’ve had my share of experience with waiting and I have a hard time calling it good. Sometimes when I cry out to God int he midst of a painful season of waiting, I feel as if I would do anything to bring the season to an end. Waiting doesn’t feel good! It feels exhausting! It feels frustrating! It feels overwhelming!  And each time I come to the end of a particularly tough season of waiting, I tend to think, “Whew! That’s over. Maybe I’ve learned what I need to about waiting”—as if passing a “waiting test” might exempt me from a future course.

Jeremiah’s claim, however, isn’t that any wait is good. The wait that is with hope and quietness—that is the wait that is good.

Have you ever been waiting for something, and slowly despaired of its every happening? I know I have!

Recently I was praying for Joel’s neck (Yes again!) and I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to consider the breadth of this journey in physical suffering. Joel has suffered for four years—four long, painful, dragged out years. Yet when I think of the scope of our life, four years isn’t really that long. In relation to eternity it’s nothing. Still, it feels like something! As I thought about the time frame of this particular and painful wait, God whispered to me,Why have you quit praying for what you really want? Didn’t I tell you I would take care of this. This gentle rebuke showed me that I had wavered in my hope. The wait was soured by my dwindling hope. A good wait, is a wait full of hope for God’s good plan to take hold. And it doesn’t mean it will happen according to our schedule. Jeremiah did not even live to see the fulfillment of God’s restoration of his children to the land. Jeremiah’s wait was for something beyond his own life. And yet, he was willing to hope and wait quietly. Victor Frankl a survivor of Auschwitz said that not everyone who maintained hope survived, but absolutely everyone who lost hope died. Hopelessness kills! But to hope in the Lord is good!

Waiting in quietness is the next quality Jeremiah expresses as good. This quietness does not mean just shut your mouth and put up with whatever your troubles are. It doesn’t mean grin and bear it.”This quietness is a quietness of soul. It is a rest deep within, because God is in control even when we can’t tell what he is doing. Quietness tends to flee as soon as hope dissipates. Once we don’t have hope in God, we are no longer able to experience rest in our souls.

But when we wait quietly our testimony shouts to the world. When we can express rest in the midst of turmoil others take notice. This testimony of quietness provides opportunities for us to speak life and hope into other people.

This kind of quietness also frees us from our own broken efforts to avoid, assuage, or overcome the pain. I find myself quickly managing situations to mitigate fall-out. When I’m in pain, I just want something to make it feel better. Sometimes I cry out to God as if he’s a cosmic bottle of Advil ready to dose out pain relief at a moment’s notice. But waiting quietly means I cease my own striving, my own agenda, my own demands for pain relief.

Waiting may never feel good. But it is good when it is in hopeful quietness. It is good when God is recognized as merciful and compassionate. It is good when it testifies to others of God’s faithfulness. It is good when we can let God work in the wait instead of attempting to manage our own comfort.

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