In the Waiting Room

Read and reflect on Psalm 13.

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD. —Psalm 27:14 NKJV

The phone rang while my husband and I were having supper. It was our youngest son, David.

“I’m on my way to the hospital,” he said. “I broke my arm playing first base.”

My heart sank. After enduring shoulder surgery and months of physical therapy a year and a half earlier, David, a pitcher, had worked hard to get back in form. The coach for his summer league team had been playing him on first and third bases for the games between his starts, planning to use him on the mound for the must-win games.

Nearly three hours later, David called back. The bone just above the wrist on his left arm—not his pitching arm, thank heaven—was broken clear through and was out of place.

“I have to come back to the hospital tomorrow for surgery to put the bone back in place,” he said. “I might need pins.”

After we hung up, I packed my bag for the next day with plenty of reading material, a crossword puzzle book, bottles of water and juice, and fruit. I knew it would be a long day in the hospital waiting room. There was nothing I could do but wait for the outcome — and worry how we’d replace the income from his summer construction job. Now, instead of playing in the big tournament or putting away money for school, he’d be nursing a broken arm, waiting for it to heal in time for fall ball.

More time is spent in life’s waiting rooms, I think, than on the field of play. Like the psalmist, I often cry, “How long, O LORD? How long? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1)

I don’t like being benched in a waiting room, but I’m learning to deal with it. And I’m learning to deal with the disappointment, confusion, frustration, and anger that accompany the waiting. Oh, the emotions aren’t as intense as they once were, but still they pop up, undermining the faith that’s the foundation of my life: “Do you really believe God protects you and those you love? Maybe you didn’t pray enough. Maybe it’s all a lie.”

That’s when I open my Bible and do my faith-strengthening exercises. I like Psalms for low-faith times because the writer plumbs the depths of emotions that we, too, experience. Voicing his anguish and looking for answers that seem too long in coming, he reaches a turning point, where his questions collide head-on with faith: “But I trust in your unfailing love; and my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5–6).

Maybe waiting time isn’t wasting time, after all. For the lessons learned in the waiting room and the work God does in us while we wait are much more valuable than the answer we think we should have. For the harder a thing is to attain, the greater will be the triumph.

When the questions are hard and the answers don’t come, when my faith falters and my beliefs grow brittle, remind me, Lord, the waiting room is where faith grows best. Amen.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

Even When You Don’t Understand

 

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But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. Habakkuk 2:20 (NKJV)

Have you ever prayed, “How long, O Lord?” Or wondered if God really does hear and answer?

Looking at world conditions today, do you question God’s sovereignty, asking, “Is He really in control? And if He is, why does He allow such evil to exist?”

Perhaps you’ve even wondered if God even exists.

If so, join the prophet Habakkuk—and the rest of us.

Who’s Habakkuk, you may ask. An Old Testament prophet who questioned what was going on in the world around him and how God was and wasn’t dealing with it.

The book he wrote (three chapters tucked away in the latter part of the Old Testament), rather than a direct message from God to the people of Judah, is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. It’s a record of Habakkuk’s wrestling with the same issues we wrestle with today, God’s answers, and Habakkuk’s response to those answers.

Written in about 607 B.C., the book describes the social corruption and spiritual apostasy of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Habakkuk asks God two questions: “Why does evil in Judah go unpunished?” And, when God answered that judgment was coming by way of the Babylonians, “How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves?”

Does that sound familiar? I don’t have to go into detail about social corruption and spiritual apostasy in today’s world, do I?

But I’d like to share with you five truths I gleaned from the book of Habakkuk—truths I believe Habakkuk also learned.

First, God is sovereign. No matter how chaotic and out-of-control the world seems to be, God’s plan and purpose will prevail. He is in control.

Second, God’s timetable is not our timetable. “For a thousand years in Your sight is like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

Third, God always keeps His promises. What He says He’ll do, He’ll do. The Old Testament is filled with God’s promises and how He kept them, prophecies that history has shown to be fulfilled. How can we doubt that the prophecies that haven’t been fulfilled to date will not be? As He told Habakkuk, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Fourth, trust God—wait patiently (hard to do sometimes, I know) and live by faith (not fear). “The righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4b) was God’s answer to Habakkuk—and to us. Be faithful. Keep doing what is right regardless of what’s going on around you. Remember the words of Paul to the Galatian church: “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9 TLB).

And finally, it’s okay to question God—as long as you’re truly seeking to understand Him, His ways, and His Word and not questioning Him out of defiance and rebellion.

Habakkuk’s book ends with a prayer of praise to God even though he didn’t understand God’s ways.

What about you? Will you still praise Him when you don’t understand?

May I cling to You, Father, even when—especially when—I don’t understand. Amen.

NOTE: Too often we avoid the Old Testament with the mistaken assumption very little is relevant to our modern world. The more I read and study God’s Word, the more I’m convinced that all of it—I repeat, all of it—applies to us today.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on the book of Habakkuk