Sometimes all we can do is wait. I usually find these situations terribly frustrating. I’m more of the “fix it immediately, figure out a faster way, make it happen now” kind of guy.
Tell me if you’ve ever been there: in a hot, loud, winding line in an amusement park; behind a well-meaning but slow-driving chap who’s mistaken the far left lane for the far right one; on day 5 of what is probably a 10-day cold when you’ve got work piling up and you need to be healthy now.
Patience is a virtue, or so I’m told. But waiting makes me feel so powerless. Perhaps that’s what frustrates us most about it. When we’re forced to wait, we’re forced to face the fact that we’re in a situation we cannot control.
There have been times when I’ve mistaken waiting for passivity. But in truth, there is an intentional kind of waiting that takes far more commitment than trying to force the wrong solution. Perhaps these are the moments where patience, and not passivity, is a true virtue.
The history of the people of God is one punctuated by radical change and progress, but also measured by many great periods of waiting upon the Lord. Take Exodus, for example. It’s easy to remember the story of Moses and the great miracles of God releasing the Israelites from captivity. It’s harder to meditate on the 400 years of slavery that preceded those mighty works—works that the people of God could not have rushed, manufactured, or conjured on their own.
Now, hear me clearly say that this does not mean we settle quietly for injustice or abuse. We are called to stand in the gap for those who cannot stand for themselves. That is gospel truth. That said, as we are active in justice and in our own piety and sanctification, we still must wait. We pray, we hand our troubles over to the Lord, we petition His throne, and often, we wait.
Isaiah’s proclamation “we have waited for Him, and He has saved us” is not a fatalistic one, but rather a victorious one. The active, patient, intentional waiting upon the Lord will, without fail, pay off. God will swallow up death—the death of our souls by sin, the death of our society by systemic evil, and the death of our bodies by decay and sickness. This victory of death is accomplished because Jesus Himself entered the grave and vanquished the powers of death forever.
Yet we wait. That is the journey of Lent: somber, patient, active waiting. Not because we’ve thrown up our hands in defeat, but because we know what is coming. “The LORD God will wipe away tears from all the faces, and the reproach of His people He will take away from all the earth” (Isaiah 25:8). Praise be to God!
Written by Andrew Stoddard