We’ve all spent much of the past two years waiting, haven’t we?
From the seemingly endless wait for restrictions to lift, isolation periods to end and the interminable wait to see if a second red line will appear on covid tests – in a world where waiting had become almost obsolete – we’ve been forced to face it head on.
Enduring waiting isn’t something that seems to get easier, no matter how many times we face it.
We are so often restless and impatient.
And we aren’t alone in it. Throughout scripture we see that God’s people are, more often than not, called to be a waiting people – but that doesn’t stop them struggling with it.
We see Abraham and Sarah wait for their promised descendants, Joseph wait in a prison cell, the Israelites wandering the desert for forty years… I could go on! It seems that if we are to be the people of God, we are called to be a people of waiting.
Lent is a similar period of waiting; there is no way to rush it, just as there was no way for Jesus to rush through his own wait and temptation in the desert. It’s so tempting to want to skip over Lent once we’ve eaten the pancakes and marked ourselves with ashes; and yet there are things that are learned best in our times of waiting and hoping.
We know that waiting is painful; we realise that pretty quickly in life (try making a hungry baby wait whilst you prepare its bottle!), but what I’ve seen is that in God’s economy of time, our waiting is never wasted.
From the wait for the sun to rise, the wait for the flowers to bloom; God does something special when we wait with him.Tweet
Psalm 40 is one of my favourite Psalms to return to in times of waiting; because it recognises both the agony of the wait and the preciousness of meeting God in our place of pain. “I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry”, the Psalmist says; and I wonder how long he waited before God “lifted me out of the slimy pit”? I remember reading this Psalm in the depths of depression, feeling utterly hopeless, and being comforted both that we have permission to express the pain of waiting. This is the gift of lament; not just that we can bring our unvarnished pain to God- but that we are not abandoned to it.
As we journey through Lent together and explore what it means to find joy in lament, it’s my prayer that we are able to wait patiently together to hear the whisper of God which encourages us to be honest with Him and discover that He meets us in our pain and in our waiting.