Thursday, October 18, 2012

When Waiting Wearies

Waiting.

Waiting, waiting... waiting.

It's what a lot of us seem to be doing a lot these days, isn't it?  Waiting.

I'm waiting for a writing job that will pay my bills.  Perhaps you're waiting for a job, too.  Employment is something for which many folks are waiting.  I just finished reading an article online about a run-down rust-belt town waiting for the "next big thing" to come along and revive their local economy and drive down their high unemployment rate.  Some experts say corporate America is waiting for this November's presidential election to be over before making long-term plans regarding investing in new products or new employees.

Waiting can be excruciatingly frustrating.  Thousands of New Yorkers were waiting on idle subway trains earlier this week, waiting for glitches to be exorcised from the MTA's byzantine switching systems.  If you've ever been at the mercy of public transit when things aren't working, you know how maddening it can be.  Maybe you wait in long lines of bumper-to-bumper traffic during your morning and evening commutes, day after day, mocking the word "rush" in rush hour.

We wait, and wait, and wait some more.  About the only thing for which we never have to wait is, well... waiting.

The difference between people who simply sit and wait, and people who keep busy while they're waiting, may actually provide the spark that ignites the "next big thing" our society seems to be waiting for economically, politically, and even emotionally.

I've been writing this blog, trying to ignite the interest of somebody who believes, as an editor of mine once told me, that I "deserve to be read."  The rust belt town languishing from the offshoring of its manufacturing economy is investing in higher education and new business incubators, hoping to somehow differentiate themselves from the plethora of small towns across America doing the same exact thing in the hopes of jump-starting their economies.

Maybe what you're waiting for has nothing to do with jobs, or getting to your job.  Maybe you're waiting for a report back from your doctor.  Maybe you're waiting to learn if you're going to be a parent, or a grandparent.   Maybe you're just waiting for your child's soccer practice to be over so you can have dinner.

Waiting By the Side of the Road

Then too, sometimes what we're waiting for, and what we get, are two different things.  We wait, thinking we know what we're waiting for, but do we?

About two thousand years ago, a blind beggar was confined to the roadside outside the gates of Jericho, an ancient city in what is now the political state of Israel.  This blind beggar's name was Bartimaeus, and although we don't know how old he was, or whether he'd been blind from birth or from some disease, we can easily assume most of Jericho's population probably knew him, or knew who he was.  They'd likely seen him there for years, begging and waiting.

Regardless of how long he hadn't been able to see, you can imagine that being blind for any length of time in that culture would have been sheer misery.  It's bad enough today in North America, where our culture is quite progressive in curing, treating, or providing assistance for people with vision problems.  Two thousand years ago, blindness was a virtual prison.

About all a blind person could do back then was take up a spot alongside a road and beg all day long, every day, and hope that enough sympathetic passers-by will toss enough money their way to buy a simple supper.

Waiting, all day.  Sometimes calling out when you hear people approaching, then slumping back against a wall or rock, and waiting some more.

Waiting, calling, begging.  But most likely, mostly waiting.  Waiting in utter darkness, even as you can feel the sun beating down on you.

Suddenly, Bartimaeus heard more than just the shuffling of passers-by.  There was a commotion, and he learned that Jesus of Nazareth was going to be passing right by his spot by the road!  Maybe Jesus would heal him!

He had to get Christ's attention.

So he hollered out, calling on Jesus to have mercy on him.  He made such a ruckus and racket, calling out so desperately, that people in the crowd, who had relegated him to the sidelines of life, sitting out of the way of normal people, told him to be quiet.

Yet undoubtedly, this was just such an opportunity for which Bartimaeus would likely have never before dreamed.  Maybe he'd spent his time waiting by the side of the road not only for enough money to make it through the day, but waiting for death itself.  The commotion he himself causes in this passage creates the impression that he'd immediately realized this might be his one chance in his entire life to be healed from blindness - and he was frantically hoping to seize the moment.

Christ is the Creator of Perfect Timing

Christ, of course, knew Bartimaeus was nearby on the roadside.  And he stopped.

The Son of God stopped, just like He does when each of His children call out to Him.  And Christ called Bartimaeus to Himself.

Quickly, the crowd changed its tune, turned to Bartimaeus, and said, "well, what do you know!  You've gotten His attention, and He wants to talk to you."

As you can imagine, Bartimaeus didn't need any more urging.  He jumped to his feet, likely needing to be steadied by people in the crowd who only moments before were telling him to shut up.  He threw off his cloak, perhaps so fully assured that Christ would heal him, he'd be able to retrieve it after his miracle, and he could see where it had fallen.

And sure enough, Christ performed his miracle, based on his blunt, honest, earnest faith.

I don't know about you, but I'm waiting for many things, not just a job.  You're probably waiting for many things, too.  Most of them aren't as dire as waiting for the remotest of chances to be healed from something as grave as blindness.  But yet the emotional, spiritual, and mental blindnesses with which we suffer may still be things we have to wait through until God's appointed time, when our waiting will finally be over.

Waiting can only be true agony when you don't trust the Person for Whom you're waiting.

May the Lord grant us the grace to wait as long as He would have us wait, and to wait with patience, hope, and even joy.

As the psalmist has so poignantly phrased it, wait on the Lord.  Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord!
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