In the Waiting Room

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD. – Psalm 27:14 (NKJ)

The phone rang one Monday evening a few years ago while my husband and I were having a late 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.

“Was it his right or left arm?” I asked my husband after he hung up.

“I don’t know.”

The news stunned him so much he hadn’t thought to ask.

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, fruit, and bottles of water and juice. I knew from experience it would be a long day sitting in hospital waiting room. There was nothing I could do but wait for the outcome – and worry how we would replace the income from his summer construction job, which he’d just started three days earlier.

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.

“Well,” David said on the way to the hospital, “I can still work on strengthening my legs – and I can still throw with my pitching arm. I’ll get a bucket of balls and toss them to keep my arm in shape.”

Another setback. More waiting. 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 with the disappointment, confusion, frustration, and anger that accompany the waiting orders. 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 pull out my finger-worn 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, that it’s in the waiting room that faith grows best. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 13

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

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