I was having coffee with a friend recently and we were talking about how instant everything is for our kids. Kids today never seem to have to wait for anything. Being in my 40s means that when I took pictures as a teenager, I had to wait at least a week or two after dropping off the film before I could go pick my pictures up. You had to decide ahead of time to roll the dice on getting doubles, because if they were all terrible, you had all these useless extra pictures to throw out. You couldn’t take pictures of anything scandalous (which as a good church girl I of course would not have) because the photo guy could flag your pictures. Or at the very least, he could give your mom a heads-up when you drove up to the Fotomat booth.
Fast forward a few decades, and now you just take the picture, and there it is. That’s it. The one where you made that weird face is instantly deleted. Need to know anything about history? Google it. You want to look up what year Kevin Bacon was born, you just ask Siri and she tells you (1958, if you were wondering). You want a burrito? 90 seconds in the microwave and you got it. We, myself included, don’t have to wait for much anymore.
At the time I’m writing this we are waiting for my daughter’s PSAT results and my son’s acceptance letter from the local technical high school. I hate waiting for both of these things, but I’m all too aware that it’s good for all of us to be made to wait this way. God uses the times of waiting to remind us of our place; that the world doesn’t actually revolve around us. We know our favorite Bible heroes – Joseph, Moses, Abraham – all had to wait, not months but years, to see God’s promises unfold in their lives. It’s during these times of waiting that God can grow us in amazing ways. When it seems like God is delaying, it’s so easy to start questioning what we really believe. Do we believe that God is faithful? Do we believe that He keeps His promises? On day one it’s easy to say yes. It’s much harder on day 87. Or in year 12. Our faith is refined by dry times, and its strength is revealed when we are tested.
Romans 12:12 tells us to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. When our strength fails us, and we despair that God will ever answer our prayers, we can cling to His Word and find joy in the hoping. We can learn to be patient through stressful or painful times only by going through them. And we can walk out the faith we proclaim by being dedicated to our prayer time with the Lord.