What to Do When You Are Forced to Wait

I am good at a few things. But waiting is not one of them. Whether it is being put on hold when I call a business, sitting in the waiting room of my dentist’s office, or standing in the security line at the airport, I am impatient.

Three Bored People in a Waiting Room - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/drewhadley, Image #12692697

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/drewhadley

As I am writing this tonight, we are waiting on the test results for my granddaughter, Libby. She has had strange symptoms for a couple of years. Finally, after she vomited again this afternoon, my daughter, Mindy, took her to the emergency room. My wife, Gail, dropped what she was doing to be at her side.

The emergency room was unusually busy, so they sat for more than four hours before getting in to see a doctor. He ordered some tests. Unfortunately, it will be several more hours before the results come back. The good news is that Libby is comfortable and seems stabile. Meanwhile, we wait.

But you’re probably waiting on something, too. Perhaps you are waiting for:

  • Word that you landed that job you want
  • News about a possible raise or promotion
  • Mr. or Ms. Right to show up
  • Your pregnancy test results
  • The judge’s decision on your court case
  • A response to an important email
  • Approval for a loan
  • The answer to a prayer
  • The pain to stop

While I am still not very good at waiting, I have gotten better. Here are five strategies I am currently using:

  1. Embrace it. I don’t believe anything happens by chance. To say it another way, everything happens for a reason. If I am waiting, there is something for me to learn. Waiting might actually be a gift.
  2. Ask the right questions. I’ve blogged a lot about this recently. An unhelpful question would be “Why can’t they hurry up?” or even “Why is this taking so long?” A better question is “What can I learn while I am waiting?” or “How will this kind of waiting make me stronger?”
  3. Redeem the time. There are lots of things you can do while you are waiting if you are prepared. This is why I rarely go anywhere without my MacBook Air or my Amazon Kindle. Worst case, I can read a book on my iPhone.
  4. Encourage someone else. One of the best things you can do when you are waiting is get the attention off yourself. I have to keep reminding myself, “It’s not all about me.” Encouraging someone else while I am waiting doesn’t solve my own problem, of course, but it makes me feel like I am at least doing something—and making a positive contribution.
  5. Trust God. This is the difficult but important part. God has not forgotten about you or me. He not only knows exactly what we need; He knows when we need it. His timing is perfect. I like how Jesus showed up in the story about Lazarus. It looked like He was two days late. His friend had died. But He arrived right on time—for what He wanted to do (see John 11).

Suffice it to say, I have a lot more to learn. This is not easy for me. But I am certainly getting plenty of opportunities. How about you?

Questions: Are you in a season of waiting? How are you coping with it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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