I wait for the Lord,
my soul waits,
and in His word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning
more than watchmen wait for the morning (Psalm 130:5-6)
To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in You I trust;
let me not be put to shame…
Indeed, none who wait for You shall put to shame. (Psalm 25:1-3a)
I watched the door close behind her as she crossed into the threshold of the unknown, and I sat on the other side, in the waiting room. Waiting for the report the doctor would give, waiting for the answer from the Lord, waiting for the other side of the unknown. I had come before the Lord many times in the days prior with tears and supplication. With all of my heart, I wanted the answer to go a certain way, but one thing I have learned in decades of waiting is that come what may, our greatest treasure and hope is not in the answers we most desire, but in the One we cling to in the waiting. And so the door closed behind her and though tears welled up and fell from my eyes, my soul was at peace in trusting the kindness and faithfulness of the One Who was on both sides of the door with us.
For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from Him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 62:1-2)
The answer that day was the one we had all hoped to hear and oh how our hearts rejoiced. But I can’t help but think that it was the moments before we heard, “everything is okay,” that really mattered the most. Those moments where we were saying, “blessed be Your name, Jesus… come what may, You, Jesus, are the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.”
To be able to say those words, you have to know the One you are saying them to (and about). They are not half-hearted and there is no lack of faith in their confession. Those words can only come when you have seen and known the beauty and worth of Jesus firsthand.
We are a results oriented society. And the motivation for success and for results – even quick results – has become so entrenched in the theology of the Church in the West that it sometimes feels like the Christianity of the early church has been replaced with a “how to” self-help ideology for happy living and success. We can simply turn on our TV and find many (too many, in my opinion) preachers there to tell us the magic formula for how to have our best life and all the positive outcomes we desire now (emphasis on the now). “How to pray to get results” seems more important than the One to Whom we are praying.
But the waiting rooms of this age are where all of our magic formulas for success are stripped away and only one question remains, a question that Jesus asked many times as He walked with His disciples on the dusty roads of Israel long ago: “who do you say that I am?” Who is Jesus and what is He to us? If He is a means to a happy ending here on earth, then when our happy endings and desired circumstances don’t play out as we expected and as we have prayed, our love for Him falls through the little cracks of our broken theology. But if He is the end, if all our searchings and longings begin and end with Christ alone, then we will never be disappointed. Whether everything works out perfectly or everything falls apart, we can cry out with the saints of old, “Blessed be His Name,” because Jesus alone is our portion and reward.
The waiting room is always about Jesus. Ultimately, the Bride of Christ both in heaven and on the earth is watching and waiting for that Day when the sky will break open and He will come to make all things new and right again as our Bridegroom, King and Judge. When Jesus told the Father just before the Cross that His desire was for us to be with Him where He is and to behold His glory (John 17:24), there was a Day in His heart when He knew we would be face to face with Him in the Holy City on the earth, and we would see with unveiled eyes the Son in all His glory and be with Him forever.
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God… The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:1-3, 23)
But Jesus also desired that we would behold Him in the waiting room of the ages. Waiting is not a passive word… it does not mean sitting on one’s hands and passing the time until that Day. Waiting literally means hoping, and hope only comes by beholding the beauty of Jesus Christ and hearing His words. This is why we often see the words waiting and watching together, and why many of the passages about waiting in the Bible are followed or preceded by descriptions of who God is and with language of seeing His beauty and beholding His goodness. Waiting and watching are acts of love.
So how does that happen when Jesus is not here (and we are not there), when we cannot see His face with our actual eyes yet or hear His voice as we will in that Day?
Though we may not see Him outwardly, we have been given different eyes with which to see Jesus rightly, the eyes of our heart and the life within. The hidden person within (see 1 Pet 3:3-4, Rom 7:22, 2 Cor 4:16, Eph 3:16, or Col 3:1-3) has eyes to see and ears to hear and we must learn to use both if we want our hearts to be steady and full of hope in the waiting rooms of this age.
There is a feast laid out before us. A banqueting table of the knowledge of God and the beauty of His heart. It is ours for the taking, but we must give our eyes and ears to Him to find our way through the deception, darkness and dullness that surrounds us and seeks to crush our hopes into something smaller and worth so much less than Jesus Himself.
When all of our waiting is wrapped up in the God who could have done anything He wanted with a people lost in their own sin and darkness, but chose to leave His throne and clothe Himself in flesh made of dust so that we could know Him and be with Him forever, then no matter what lies on the other side of the doorways of this age our hope is sure and our hearts are full. Our outer man may waste away, but our inner man is renewed every day, going from strength to strength (Ps 84:5-7) and glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18). And we are able to sing with the psalmist:
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)
The waiting room is a room I am all too familiar with but it has become a room I have learned to be eternally grateful for rather than to despise. It is here in this very room that Jesus can be found and adored… for He alone is worth the wait.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1 prayer)
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord! (Psalm 27:13-14 ESV)