Waiting & Working

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

When my second child, Ben, charged into the world, he definitely left his mark. He made his entrance after twenty-four hours of labor and weighed in at eight pounds, fourteen ounces. I left the hospital not only with my precious bundle, but also a countless number of stitches and the burning question, “Will I ever be able to sit again?”

The saying that women can forget the pains of childbirth and look forward to having more children was true for me, and two-and-a-half years later I found myself preparing to have another baby. When my doctor suggested that I be induced due to the size of my previous baby, I was less than thrilled. Dr. B. was concerned that this baby would be bigger and cause even more issues for me if she was allowed to come on her own. The doctor assured me that a labor induction was fairly routine and mainly employed when there is risk involved for the mother or baby. I was hesitant, but when the doctor made her appeal by reminding me that she really wanted to deliver my baby and had been unavailable when both of my other children were born, I relented. With her skills of persuasion, Dr. B could have had a career as an attorney or politician.

My husband and I arrived at the hospital the evening before the procedure, anxious yet hopeful that we would soon see our long-awaited baby. The admission and room assignment came fairly quickly—which, in hindsight, may have instilled a false timeline in my mind. I began to think that this could be a fast and easy process, and went happily to my room. However, little doubts began to emerge when the assigned nurse attempted to insert an IV several times with shaky hands, once even dropping the needle onto the floor. The battle-worn nurse managed to finish her tasks and send Gary home so that I could rest​before the big task ahead. Ha! ​All night I was serenaded by the beep of machines and monitors, and accosted by lights of all kinds. Resting would have to wait.

Finally, morning came and the appropriate drugs were administered. Hour after hour Gary and I waited for labor to begin, staring at the monitors like video game addicts. The nurses increased my medications and suggested we try different activities, such as sitting on an exercise ball. About four o’clock I started to get really aggravated and just wanted to go home. Because I had been given the full dose of medications, I could not go home. There was nothing to do but wait—wait for my body to do its job, wait for the doctor (who had been in surgery all day), and wait to see my baby.

When I was at maximum frustration level, Dr. B. marched into the room, taking charge as if she were a four-star general.

“What seems to be the hold up?” she said, snapping on her gloves.

“I want to go home,” I stated.

“Oh no, we are having a baby today,” she retorted while spinning her stool and expertly retrieving a tool.

Dr B. called out several rapid-fire sentences, finished her procedure, and within a few minutes I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.

From what I can tell, most people do not like to wait, me included. Waiting for Rachel to be born was one of the most aggravating experiences that I have gone through. Today many people are agitated as they watch and wait on something. When will the pandemic go away? Will I ever get back to work or school? When am I going to get married? When will God answer my prayers? Even God’s people forget that He is in charge of time, that He ordains our waiting, and that He is in fact working in us while we wait.

God is not concerned about our timelines. In Psalm 90:4 the psalmist states, “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,​ or as a watch in the night.” And Peter repeats this idea in the New Testament, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that​ with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).

Sometimes waiting involves something that is distressing or even painful. While we should love and care for one another in these circumstances, we must also remind one another that these circumstances are used by God, too (Romans 8:28). The Apostle Paul declares from prison, “And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord ​by my imprisonment,​ are much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14, emphasis added). Paul’s waiting in prison did not negate God’s work; in fact, what he did in prison was the work. Not only did Paul write many of the New Testament epistles while in prison, the followers of Christ who saw Paul’s example during his imprisonment had their faith increased along with their ability to preach the Gospel.

No doubt, humans are very challenged by waiting. The surrounding culture values expediency and busyness. And may I dare say we in the Church do as well? This may be a surprise to some, but quickness is not listed as fruit of the Spirit. Instead, Galatians 5:22 states that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. As far as waiting goes, we must challenge ourselves with these two thoughts:

  1. What is God calling me to do while I await an answer?
  2. Is it possible that what I do while I am waiting is the work He is asking me to do?

Waiting is not harmful, sinful, or wasteful. It is, in fact, a great tool in the hands of a creative and perfect God.