Imagine you are sitting in a waiting room. You look, and you are surrounded by people. The room extends in every direction. As far as you can tell, it seems to go on forever. Just within your field of vision, you can see thousands of other people waiting, though you are sure there are many more that you cannot see. There are people of every age, from newborns to elders. People of every culture, every nation. Some people are sitting, and others standing. Many of those standing are tapping their feet or twiddling their thumbs. Many are pacing back and forth across the room with looks of fury or anguish on their faces. You notice that the emotions circulating around the room stretch across a wide spectrum. Some people look fresh and energized, as though they just arrived. Others seem to be on the brink of exhaustion, the only thing keeping them from total collapse is the arms of a friend holding them up. Those people appear to have been in this room for a long time, years, or even decades. You see those who are sick in body—some even nearing death; those suffocating with anxiety or drowning in depression; those imprisoned by addictions of every sort. You see hearts so broken you feel your own heart breaking with them. You see some people awaiting news, and others awaiting answers. You see those filled with promising hope, and others utterly hopeless.
Though many of the patients in this room portray some degree of distress or suffering, what catches your eye are the select few who show something different. A frail and tired elder, surely only minutes away from his transition to another life, with a look of serenity and understanding in his eyes. A sickly young girl lying in a hospital bed hooked up to IVs, smiling and laughing with her siblings. A single mother imbued with a quality of patience and trust, who seems to have set up camp with her children, apparently with no plans to be leaving anytime soon. Another who sits alone in silent meditation, though obviously exhausted somehow looks equally at rest. You sense the essence of pain and loss surrounding these people, and yet you also sense a deeper feeling of fullness and peace flowing in and out of them. You wonder in awe how such diversity of feeling and experience can exist simultaneously, all breathing together in one infinitely large room.
Does any of this feel familiar?
We have all been in this room at one time or another in our lives. Perhaps you’re sitting there now, toe-tapping and eyes glued to the clock, wondering if you’ll ever get out of this place. You’ve got things to do, places to be!
I get it.
We all know the experience of waiting in anticipation for something, be it a job promotion, better health, the safe return of a loved one, relief from mental or emotional suffering, laws and policies to change that will finally allow a better life for you and your family, the arrival of a new child, the passing of a loved one, an answer to a prayer.
It might even be that all you know is this room. Perhaps you feel that all your life you have been waiting—waiting for a better day, waiting for someone to come to your aid, waiting for a sign that God hears you, waiting to know that you are not alone.
Why does God ask us to wait? Why does it take years sometimes to feel a response or receive some sort of answer? Why does God allow suffering to go on and on when we know with just one word he can take it all away? And why is it that, sometimes, the miracle never does come?
What if I told you that this whole earth was actually one great classroom? Each experience you have here is the exact lesson you need in that very moment, curated thoughtfully and lovingly for you by an all-knowing God with the purpose of helping you reach your true destiny and realize your true divine nature.
This waiting room I speak of is like a school. What if every time you found life ushering you back into this room, you sat in a deeper knowing that somehow, through this experience here, you are going to become more of whom you came here to become? Become more of yourself.
I’ve come to know The Waiting Room as a deeply sacred place, though it might not often seem as such. There is something profoundly important that happens inside of us when we are called to wait on God and choose to answer willingly. Happily and peacefully? Maybe not. At least not at first. But when we willingly enter this classroom with an offering of our whole-hearted trust in his processes and his timing, this is where real and deep transformation happens. This is the place where each of us, inch by inch, becomes more like God.
This waiting room is where his qualities are planted in you and begin to grow and take form as you nurture them with you trust. Eventually you become something new, someone new, and one day you are no longer the angry individual pacing back and forth across the room screaming and shaking your fists at the sky but instead are the one sitting in stillness, heart open to heaven, filled with the wisdom and peace that comes only from full surrender to God.
Will it be easy? No. Unfortunately (and fortunately), that is the point. Nothing real is ever easy. Waiting is a process that cannot be rushed. It is the process of life. Where we get stuck is when we become convinced of the lie that God does anything for any other purpose than to prove to us his absolute and perfect love for us. God will always call his people to wait on him. This is where we learn patience. This is where faith is forged. If we always get whatever we want, right when we want it, what purpose would faith have in our life anyway? We wouldn’t need it. And how would we ever learn gratitude and to appreciate what we have? Where would we build our strength and resilience? From where would come our humility?
We all suffer in life, to one degree or another. And we all wish for that suffering to end. But what if without it, we could never truly know love? Never truly know compassion? What if the very longing for suffering to end is what is required to bring us to our God? Without it, I wonder how much we would really call upon him. Our need for God is what draws us near to him. And without drawing near to heaven, how could we ever become heavenly?
There is wisdom in God’s ways. We may never know the exact reason we are in the circumstances we have been placed in. I think that is the point. The mysteries of God keep us curious, teach us to trust, and draw out our longing for him. Next time you find yourself wondering where God is, and what point there is in even trying, I invite you to consider that perhaps God is closer than you can ever imagine— working in the subtleties, forging you into a new creature, shaping you into the person and preparing you for a life you can only ever dream of. All you have to do now is wait and see.