On Waiting in Uncertainty

A couple of weeks ago the lectionary text was from Genesis when three strangers appeared to Abraham. He offered them hospitality, rest, and retreat. They offered him the assurance that that word he had heard from God was indeed coming. Sarai, his wife, who was by the tent heard the promise that she was going to have a child and she laughed. One of the strangers pointed it out to her. She responded, “I did not laugh,” and then comes one of my favorite lines in Bible, “Oh yes you did laugh.”

I think Sarai denied having laughed because she knew that this was an important message. A message that was from the Divine. A message that was changing their lives. A message that encompassed all her hopes and dreams and all of her years of waiting.

The laugh was not one of unbelief as she has so often been characterized as having, but rather a laugh that gurgled in the deepest part of her soul. A laugh because the very thing she had been waiting and dreaming and hoping for couldn’t possibly come true now.

The season of waiting is so very difficult because we don’t know how long the waiting will be. Waiting for test results. Waiting for a call to a ministry position. Waiting for a child. Waiting for a relationship. Waiting in line at the grocery store. Waiting for a train to pass by.

Whatever we are awaiting, there is something with us that urges us to action in the midst of waiting. We feel like we are supposed to be doing something else besides waiting because waiting is doing nothing. Just today I was at a railroad crossing and I saw the first car and then the second and then the third turn around and go a different way because they simply couldn’t wait for the train to pass by.

Waiting makes us feel powerless. Waiting makes us feel anxious. Waiting makes us feel vulnerable.

None of these are emotions we would choose. All of these are difficult. So, we run from waiting not wanting to feel powerless, not wanting to feel anxious or vulnerable convinced that in the meantime we can do something to make the waiting go away.  As hard as we try, the waiting creeps back to our lives and to our attention.

Whatever you are waiting on, be assured that waiting is a spiritual practice that asks everything of us and asks us to empty ourselves before God. This is good and important work. Waiting asks us to remember that God is with us and God will not leave us and God keeps God’s promises. Breathe deeply in the waiting. Once we settle into the waiting, our eyes will open to many ways God is working and moving among us and within us.