“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” Psalm 13:1-2 (NKJV)
There I was again! In the waiting room of delay!
My husband was having a procedure done at our local hospital. I was waiting patiently, in the waiting room for that procedure to be done and then I would be able to take him home to rest for the remainder of the day. Yet, the waiting seemed awful long to me. They said the procedure would be about 35-40 minutes, but as I glanced at the clock I realized that I had already waited for over 2 hours.
“Excuse me,” I said calmly to the volunteer at the desk, wearing my most “I’m trying to wait patiently, but…” expression upon my face. “Could you tell me how much longer my husband will be in his procedure?” She asked for his name, then she glanced at the computer, and said, “Excuse me just a moment.” And she left.
“How long, O Lord?” was the phrase that popped into my mind. Obviously it led me deep into thought (or maybe I was getting an idea for my blog page!) because the volunteer startled me, when she tapped me on the shoulder and said. “Deary, they haven’t even started your husband’s procedure yet. There’s been a few delays. But it won’t be long.” Hmm, don’t you just love the waiting room of delays?
I have been there, done that so many times that I certainly lost count years ago. Nonetheless, in all honesty, the waiting hasn’t gotten any easier. Especially when there appears to be long delays. I sat back down, nestling into the “comfy” chair and my mind just soars as I begin to think of various times of waiting throughout my life. Within just a few moments, so many different times of waiting with delays, like an unrelenting tsunami, came storming through my mind. I felt a little overwhelmed. Yep, been there, done that one!
“How long, O Lord?” have I waited for You to hear and answer my prayers. There’s been several that I’ve been praying for for a mighty long time it seems. How long do we have to struggle financially and live paycheck to paycheck? How long do I have to wait for my prescription to be approved by the insurance company? How long before I get the results of my medical tests? How long before my friend sees her husband come to know Jesus? How long before there’s a cure from cancer that has taken away so many friends lately? How long before our pastor’s wayward son returns home? How long does this family feud have to last? How long before my husband gets a pay raise or better yet, that promotion that he has been working toward? How long, O Lord? How long should I continue in prayer over these things and so much more?
Can anyone else relate? Have YOU been in the waiting room of delays lately? Does it seem that you pray and pray and yet it seems that God is not hearing? Not listening? Not answering? How long, O Lord?
Take heart my friend! You are not alone in that waiting room of delays. The Psalmist David knew it well. Within the first two verses of Psalm 13, David asks the same question four times: “How Long, O Lord?”
David often cried out to the Lord, to share his concerns, to ask for advice, to seek godly wisdom, or to simply talk with His God. He would ask God to “attend to my cry” (17:1). “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry. Do not be silent at my tears.” (39:12). “Give ear to my prayer O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me. I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily.” (54:1-2). “From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed.” (61:2). “I am weary with my crying; my throat is dry; my eyes fall while I wait for my God.” (69:3).
Just like David, I have so often lifted my voice up to God in prayer. I know that He hears me. I know He listens to His child as I cry out to Him. I know that in His time He will answer me. Yet sometimes, it seems that I am praying the same prayer over and over again. For days, for weeks, for months and yes, sometimes for years. And it leaves me wondering, “How long O Lord?” How long should I keep praying for the same thing?
I have taught elementary aged children how to pray many times in my career as a missionary teacher. I love to watch as they eagerly want to learn to talk with God. I’ve listened to many a “first time” prayer. Together we learn that He will answer our prayers – usually one of three ways – yes, no or wait. Children love the “Yes!” answers to their prayers. “No!” is a little harder for them to accept, especially when its something they really, really want. But “Wait!” Well, that’s totally different.
I never will forget the day, (its documented in my teaching journal!) when one of my students had to voice his opinion on this waiting for answers to prayer idea. He raised his hand, waited patiently for me to acknowledge him, then with this ever so serious look on his face, he said, “Ms. Kathy, I have to pray to God right now and have a talk with Him about His waiting to answer my prayers. Can I do that now?”
Well, before I could even get a response out, he was praying. I led the rest of the class in bowing our heads and listening to his prayer. I must admit that his boldness stunned me. “God, you and I have to have a talk about this waiting thing You want to do. Please do NOT ever ask me to wait for an answer to my prayer. I do NOT wait well. In fact I do not like waiting at all. So please do not ask me to wait. God, did you hear my prayer to You just now? Were You listening to me God? Let me say it again. No waiting for me God. I do not like to wait. Amen!”
The silence in the classroom was deafening! As the teacher, I wasn’t even sure what I should say after that. But I do know that, after a few moments of silence, the class resumed its learning. But hey, before we judge that little boy for his prayer, perhaps there is something we should all consider. Aren’t we just like him? No one likes to wait for answers to their prayers. No one likes to spend time in the waiting room of delays, wondering if God heard our prayers and will ever answer them. Hey, at least, he put the thought into words and delivered them to His God, who by the way, was no doubt listening. God might have even smiled at the innocent honesty of His precious child.
I never forgot that child. Nor did I forget the lesson I learned from him. None of us like to wait! Especially me. The Psalmist David found it hard to wait as well. But “Wait!” is one of God’s good answers to His children. Sometimes He wants us to patiently wait in the waiting room of delays so that He can teach us the value of waiting patiently.
So while we are there, what do we do during that waiting time. The Psalmist David shares with us, in the remaining verses of chapter 13, four things we can (and should!) do while we wait for our prayers to be answered.
“Consider and hear me, O Lord, my God; enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest my enemy say ‘I have prevailed against him.’; lest those who trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” (13:3-6)
First of all, we pray! We keep on praying! We pray fervently! We pray boldly! We pray faithfully! And we don’t stop until….GOD! It is in the shadow of those prayers that God is at work. We pray and we may wonder if God heard. He heard you! We pray and sometimes we wonder if God is even listening. He is listening! We pray for days, weeks, months and years and we wonder if we should continue. He wants you to persist faithfully, fervently, and boldly in those prayers. In the waiting room of delays, your God hears, He listens, and He is working on that answer. We pray until…. God…. in His time provides His divine answer! And in that moment we will know, the answer was well worth the wait!
Secondly, David encourages us to trust God while we wait in the waiting room of delays. Trust God’s plans and purposes for you and for the ones you are praying for. Trust His mercy and grace that He will show you in His time. Trust that His answer – whether yes, no or wait – will be perfect, for He is perfect and makes no mistakes in what He gives to His children!
Thirdly, David encourages us to rejoice. Yep, in the midst of that waiting room of delays, learn to rejoice! David says, “My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.” That’s a great place to start. While you wait, think of all the things that God has done in the past, think of the various answers to prayers He has given you in the past. Think of what God is currently doing in your life now and in the lives of those you pray for. As you think of those things, surely your heart will see good in the things Your God does. And in response, surely you can lift up your eyes to focus on the God who has put you in the waiting room of delays. And as you wait, surely you can learn to rejoice in what God is doing, even if you can’t see it at this moment! Waiting gives opportunity for rejoicing!
And last, David encourages us to “sing to the Lord.” Sing? Yes, sing! Be it quietly in your head and heart, or out loud with a ton of gusto and sound, sing your praises to God. My favorite song to sing in those times happens to be, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” In that waiting room of delays, you know that an answer is coming. You know that answer (whatever it is) is God’s perfect answer for that time. You know that you can trust Him. You know that He gives you reason to rejoice while you wait. You know you can sing forth His praises – even before the answer arrives. Why? “because He has dealt bountifully with me!”
So, my friend, the next time we find ourselves in the waiting room of delays, here’s what we do: We pray! We trust! We rejoice! We sing! Because our God is dealing “bountifully” with us! Hmm, perhaps that’s the reason He sent us to the waiting room of delays in the first place. What a great lesson to learn while we wait!