Give me more than a minute to scan the tabloid headlines in the grocery store check-out line, and I become a frenzied, toe-tapping, scowling creep. In one such moment, I actually considered jamming my cart into the heels of a shopper who cut in line.
Conditioned by our instant-messaging, fast-food eating, "need it now" culture, I've developed an intolerance for waiting. Sometimes, I'm so intent on reaching a goal or straining toward a coveted destination, I forget the Bible considers waiting good: "It is good to wait patiently for the Lord to save us," says Lamentations 3:26 (CEV).
Our lives include different types of waiting that span a variety of circumstances. Some waits are merely annoying inconveniences. Others are rife with threats. I experienced both the morning of September 11, 2001. I began the day in a doctor's waiting room with my daughter, who was scheduled for an 8:30 checkup. By 9:30, the embarrassed receptionist apologized profusely for the delay. As it turned out, the doctor wasn't even in the building. Fuming over wasted time and our subsequent tardiness, I left and headed for my daughter's school. Abruptly, news reports of terrorist attacks jarred the morning's first wait into perspective. My minor inconvenience no longer concerned me as I entered a more emotionally arduous wait for word from my husband who was visiting Philadelphia and staying near places being evacuated in case of another attack. Much more agonizing was the wait of those whose loved ones never came home that day. When the wait is inexplicable and steeped in suffering, we have to cling to God.1