In Leo Tolstoy’s book, War and Peace, he wrote that time and patience are the two strongest warriors. I’d like to add to that statement by saying that time and patience are also the two greatest ingredients of waiting with hope.
We all know what it feels like to wait and if we are honest, we also know that anticipating what is next produces impatience. We don’t like delays, pauses, or postponements showing up in our lives. These intruders feel like a visit from an unwelcome relative and we can’t wait for them to leave so we can get on with our lives.
When something is delayed the delay seemingly becomes a wall to scale, an enemy to conquer or a reason to devise a new plan of action. We want what we want and we want it now. We believe we are in charge and if we can’t charge ahead, then something is wrong with us.
Eventually though, at some point in our lives, some circumstance will come along and wake us up to the fact that we really are not in charge. Then we find ourselves waiting, either patiently or impatiently, with hope or without hope for something or someone to change.
I vividly remember waking up to the cold hard facts of my inability to change my rebellious teenage son. No matter what privileges we took away from him, no matter the new parameters we set up, nor how many times we discussed the rules of our household, our son refused to alter his behaviors.
Then one day, I pounded my fists on the dryer in the basement and demanded a solution from God. His answer was, “I’m not about solutions. I am about relationships.” That was the day I began to seek answers from God in a much radically different way than I had ever before. I started to listen more, demand less and be quiet.
Some call this contemplative prayer, while others call it solitary prayer. Either way, when we decide to sit quietly before God and wait without expecting anything, it can be strange. Like a person who, after years of living with open doors, suddenly decides to shut them, the voices are loud and incessant. But eventually, they recede.
In the beginning, I thought that sitting in silence was a useless exercise. Then I began to look forward to this period of time in my day. Though I was alone, I knew I was not alone. God’s Spirit is always with me and the longer I practiced sitting in silence, the more I was getting to know the voice of the Spirit.
Another phenomenon occurred. I was no longer waiting for anything to change or happen. Rather, in the midst of my pain, disappointment and confusion, there was peace.
I am well aware of the discomfort that comes with waiting. I am the first to want to jump into some kind action just to calm my sense of helplessness. But I am learning more and more just how important it is to realize that sometimes, there is nothing more we can do than to wait with the one who gives us the hope to wait.
Why bother waiting with hope? Hope is the best company when we have to wait.