Waiting Room Warriors
Waiting rooms are not anyone’s ideal destination. They are usually sought out of need rather than want, and typically, great things don’t happen there. Sometimes we find ourselves in waiting rooms eagerly awaiting procedures, test results, or relief from what ails us. Other times we may find ourselves there on behalf of someone else seeking those things, but rarely if ever do we really want to be there. We want to get in and get out. We don’t want to wait long and we don’t want to wait often. Some times we are told we must return another day and wait again, or perhaps go to a different place and wait in a different room. Waiting rooms are often cold, crowded, and uncomfortable. Sometimes we leave with good news and some times we leave with grief. Sometimes our peace flees in the face of a diagnosis. Sometimes we find ourselves in the same waiting room over and over again, only to leave without healing or hope in hand.
Other times, our waiting room may look much different than this. It may look like the empty seat on the couch next to you where a spouse used to sit before they left, and now you sit there alone waiting for them to come back home. Maybe your waiting room is the dead end you encounter over and over again when your job search has failed and you don’t know how you will pay next month’s power bill. Maybe this waiting room looks like the time it takes you to get out of bed every single morning as you wrestle with anxiety that leaves you exhausted and overwhelmed as soon as you open your eyes. Perhaps your waiting room is the addiction that just keeps drawing you back in every single time you think you’ve put it down for good. Your waiting room may be the negative lines of a pregnancy test you’ve gotten over and over for months. Maybe it's the illness you didn’t expect that demands so much of your energy daily. Maybe it's the childhood trauma that rears its ugly head in your life every so often, reminding you that you really aren’t as healed as you thought.
Whatever your waiting room looks like, we all have one. Some of us read this and instantly remember a season in our past that reminds us how dark the waiting room can be. Some of us are in one right now. Some of us have been in this waiting room for days, weeks, months, maybe even years, and we desperately want out. We want answers, hope, healing, purpose… we want out. We want to move forward. We want to take the next step. We want to put this behind us and leave the waiting room and its woes behind. We have jumped through the hoops we know how to jump through and gone through the motions we know how to go through and nothing has changed. Maybe we have crossed our arms and dug in our heels and decided that it will just always be this way. Maybe we've started to believe that there is nothing else to this life other than the four walls of our waiting room. Maybe we have given up on getting what we are waiting for, but we have been here for so long we don't remember how to get out or start over.
Have we ever considered that there could possibly be more to our waiting room than us getting the thing we are waiting on? Or, maybe, escaping the waiting isn’t the only goal. What if there was more to be found than the answers we sought while waiting? What if the waiting room was meant to be a battle ground? What if our waiting room is where war was waged for our hearts? For our desires? Our affection? Our attention? What if God lets us wait for something that we never get, but brings us closer to Him while in the waiting room? What if His plans for us include waiting so that we seek His face and long for His presence unlike we ever could if our requests were always automatically filled?
Do you remember as a child wanting something SO badly, maybe for a birthday or Christmas gift and waiting what seems like forever to finally open it, only to realize that it's really not as exciting in real life as you had hoped for- and maybe even regretting that you ever asked for it? In my experience, I have felt that way many times as an adult. The world has a way of dressing things up to be so shiny and so promising, but once we achieve or attain them, their glory quickly fades and we are met with disappointment and confusion. There have been things I have longed for, maybe not physical or material things, but things that I thought I wanted that once I got, I still felt empty. Sometimes we can even feel emptier once we've gotten it then we did before because we spent so much time and energy striving, longing, and waiting for what we thought would be the fix or solution we needed.
I have experienced many seasons in my life that I felt like were waiting rooms with "Entrance Only" signs on the door. That I just knew would never end or would not end well. Because in our minds, leaving the waiting room successfully means that we got what we wanted while we were there. I've been in a season of waiting for a disease to be healed that never was. I've been in a season of waiting for relationships to be restored that never were. I've been in a season of waiting for people I love to come to know Jesus that never have. I've been in a season of waiting for a job to be provided that didn't happen in any way or any time that I thought it would. I've been in a season of waiting for heartache and trauma to disappear that haven't, and that never fully will, because of the brokenness of this world. I know how miserable waiting rooms can be because I've been in many in my life. I have to admit that I have never been someone who waits well, yet I have been forced to wait often, and though it doesn't necessarily feel better or get easier with time, I can look back and see with clarity why it is that God required the waiting room in those seasons.
Every single time that I have found myself in some sort of waiting room, waiting for an answer, healing, provision, direction, relief, etc., God has supplied what I needed. You're probably thinking, well, you just said earlier that you have waited for things that you never got, so what do you mean that He supplied those things? I'm glad you asked.
God may not give you what you are waiting for, but He will provide what you need. What we don't realize, is that those things are often not the same. We think we need healing; God knows that we need to know Him as Healer. We think we need a job; God knows that we need to know Him as Provider. We think we need a spouse, or a child, or a parent to love us in order to feel loved; God knows that we need to know Him as Lover of our souls. We think we need to just make it through to the other side of this difficult season; God knows we need to know Him as the Author of each day. See, God is more than capable of supplying what we are asking of while in our waiting room. Physical, mental, relational, financial- He has authority over it all and can make it happen if He so chooses to grant those things to us. Sometimes He does. Sometimes we get everything we have longed for while in the waiting room. He is a good Father and He gives good gifts to His children, and therefore He grants our request many times in the way that we think He should. But other times, He doesn't.
And here is the key. Here is the difference. Here is what I have come to realize through the many waiting rooms that I have experienced: He. Is. Better. He is better. He is better than I thought. He is better than I expected. He is better than I've heard. He is better than whatever I was waiting for. He is better than my deepest longings for anything else. And when He doesn't give what we've been waiting for, He also doesn't leave us empty handed. He doesn't ignore us. He doesn't expect us to just quit asking or longing for those things necessarily. He gives us Himself. He gives us His grace. His wisdom. His strength. His power. His presence. His mercy. He gives what we really need: Him. We need Him.
I know what you're thinking. Now what? If He comes into our waiting room only offering Himself to us, not what we are there waiting for, then what? What next? Do those desires magically disappear? Do the needs we were waiting to have met subside? Do we just "get over it" and move on as though that season didn't happen? Absolutely not. What He gives of Himself in these waiting rooms is sufficient even when we don't understand. Even when we are still longing for those answers, healing, etc. So often we have tunnel vision- the ability to only see what is right in front of us at this moment. It can seem so daunting, overwhelming, and can absolutely take our breath away when we are consumed with it, but God is not unaware, unable, or unconcerned. He is present in your waiting room. He is there when you are silent, and when you are scream. He is there when you are glad, and when you grieve. He is there when you rejoice, and when you weep. He is there. Once we realize that, the game changes.
We begin to see that what we thought we needed was not actually the solution we thought it was. And even when the object of our waiting is something that God gives us, it pales in comparison to the value of knowing Him in a way that we may never have been able to had we not spent time in the waiting room. While we may not realize the value of the waiting room, God does. God gives, and God also doesn't give. Whatever He chooses, we must trust that He knows better. He gives grace when He has every right to give guilt. He gives mercy when He has every right to give punishment. If we trust Him with salvation, then we must also trust Him with the deepest desires of our hearts.
Warriors are built in waiting rooms. Warriors are built when we cry out to God to do what only He can do. Warriors are built when we submit our desires to Him, acknowledging that He is better than whatever we long for. Warriors are built when we allow God to give more of Himself to us rather than things we think we need. Warriors are built when we discover that waiting rooms are war zones. They are not for the faint of heart. They are not where we go to wallow but where we go to battle. Waiting rooms are where God molds us into who we were created to be. Waiting rooms are where we hit our knees, knowing that He is present and sufficient to meet us there. Waiting rooms are where God gets the glory when we allow Him to give us what He knows we need.
If my waiting room experience doesn't result in my longing being filled but rather in my love for the Lord growing, it was not a waste. If our waiting room experiences never result in another prayer being answered like we think it should, but in our submission and surrender to the Lord, it was well worth it. I don't say this as someone who now loves to wait or even as someone who always understands why I have to wait. I say this as someone who has experienced the goodness of God in every waiting room He has brought me through, and as someone who would rather be there with Him than anywhere else without Him.
Job 1:21 states, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord. The cry of my heart is that you and I can leave every waiting room we are called to in this life with these words. Whatever your waiting room looks like, He is there. Trust Him.
Until next time,