A TIME to WAIT
When a baby’s hungry, he experiences hunger pains and demands to be fed, usually with cries that increase in urgency and volume, until he is satisfied.
In keeping with the agricultural imagery in Scripture, James uses the farmer who has to wait patiently for the harvest of his crops (James 5:7), and he is at the mercy of the weather.
It’s hard to wait.
When it’s winter, we complain about the cold and wish for summer. When it’s summer, we complain and wish for cooler weather. When it rains, we want the sun to shine. Expectant parents wait for their baby to be born. Engaged couples wait for their wedding day. We may worry while we wait for a medical diagnosis or surgery. No matter how old we are, no matter how patient we think we are, it’s hard to wait.
The past winter has been a waiting season for me. Although I want to be productive this year, I’ve struggled with the winter blues. It has been easy to substitute the zillion other things I’ve found to do in place of writing. The writing process has been slower than I’d like it to be, but there is progress.
We find ourselves in another season of waiting now as the corona virus, COVID-19, progresses around the world. Uncertainly and fear accompany this wait, as the experts try to decipher how the virus works and affects humans, as governments take steps to protect their citizens and stop the virus’s spread, and as we get used to the interrupted patterns of our lives. We’d like to have the answers now: How soon will the pandemic be over? Will I or a loved one contract the virus? When will it be safe to resume employment and socializing? How will it affect our lives in the future?
Because we don’t know, it’s easy to become disheartened, worried, frustrated, and angry. It’s easy to fall prey to fear when we are told not to panic, but the grocery store shelves are bare, and we are bombarded with dire statistics of the virus’s advance on civilization and lack of medical supplies. We want answers now, and we want to be in control of our lives. We believe a lie when we believe we are ever in total control of our lives.
Imagine what it must have been like for the colonists and pioneers when they came to this land with vision and hope but lacked the experience, medical care, and economic backing to maintain them through disaster and disease. The 1918 flu pandemic must have been terrible, but many survived and our country became stronger. I remember experiencing the uncertainty after the terror attacks of 9/11/01, when our country pulled together to bring about help and healing. Times of disaster test us as a nation and as people. We’ve pulled through before, and I believe we can do it again.
I confess that I’m feeling restless and uncertain. But I have hope.
God is the source of my hope. I believe God is sovereign, He has a plan and purpose for each event in my life and in the world. In His mercy and grace, He has blessed the United States many times over. Because I belong to God’s family through faith in Jesus Christ, I can experience God’s peace within. I don’t know if I’ll succumb to COVID-19, I don’t know what my economic situation will be three months from now, I don’t know how much my life as an American citizen will change within the next year. I do know that God is good, He wants what is best for His creation, and I’m in the best place I can be, in His hands.
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.” Psalm 39:7
I always wonder how I will hold up under an extreme challenge to my faith. I think that’s why I’m drawn to verses 3:17 and 18 penned by the prophet Habakkuk:
“Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olives may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (NKJV)
I can’t predict the future, but God knows what lies ahead. He doesn’t promise to keep us from the storms, but He promises to be with us through them.