- When I consider how my light is spent
- Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
- And that one talent which is death to hide
- Lodg'd with me useless, though my soul more bent
- To serve therewith my Maker, and present
- My true account, lest he returning chide,
- "Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
- I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
- That murmur, soon replies: "God doth not need
- Either man's work or his own gifts: who best
- Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
- Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
- And post o'er land and ocean without rest:
- They also serve who only stand and wait."
- -John Milton
I drive, and I try not to think about it. Words like "not again", "please not this", "more testing", and "pain" link themselves together and I turn on the CD in the player and listen. Tears form in my eyes as I drive through the small town on the way to the big city. Medical tables and invasive procedures of the past--of my past--in Asia blink through the mind and suddenly I'm back in the waiting room there with bunches of Chinese around me while I cry rivers and hold my MRI and ultrasounds in my hand. "This will be easy," I tell myself, "compared to that." But there is the 45 minute drive to think through things I'd rather not think about, to remember, and so I listen. I listen to Fernando sing songs of faithfulness, of mercy, of love, of redemption.
I pull up in the parking lot and sigh. I drink the rest of the water from my water bottle, and breathe a prayer. "Please." I get out, and lock the car, and enter the nearly empty office. "Can I help you," she asks. And my breath catches in my throat. "Yes, I have an appointment, and I need to fill out some paperwork." I finish as quickly as I can, and turn the paperwork in. "You okay?" she asks. And I manage a weak yes, but she can see my eyes threaten to spill and what I don't say is written on my face. We're told not to worry about these things, we're told that suffering is for a purpose, we're told to trust, and that we'll have exactly what we need. But what if what we need is something we don't really want?
The waiting room is nearly empty, and I hope I don't have to wait too long. Long enough to think through what is going to happen. They take me back and the technician asks me a few questions, and then looks at me. "Are you okay?" "Yes, mostly, " I say and some of my worries spill out, and she says, "We'll make this quick," because sometimes the best words to comfort are no words. She's fast, and tells me results should be in today or Monday. I get out of the room, out of the office, and take in the fresh air and sunshine.
I must wait. And oh, the waiting. We're all stuck in one way or another in the waiting. The waiting for a job, a house, a career, a family, an orphan, a husband. Waiting seems sometimes to be the restless holding pattern that bridges between now and the future.
I get that call, the one I've been waiting for, and they tell me 'all clear' and there are sighs of relief and thankfulness. Waiting is more than enduring, it is trust that the waiting won't be wasted even if the results aren't necessarily what is wanted. A life well-lived has a lot to do with authenticity in the waiting, the silence---that looks for hope in the face of adversity. I don't have all the answers, and I'm still learning to trust in the waiting, but I know that His record to me in the face of suffering has always been faithfulness, even when I've doubted. He is at work redeeming me, redeeming the waiting.
Are you in the middle of waiting for something? What keeps you sane in the waiting?