Waiting alone is hard.
For a number of years I waited for the school bus alone. I would make the long walk up the hill to the bus stop alone. If I was late, I was alone in being mortified that I would have to run to catch the bus in sight of all my peers. Once when I was playing around the large oak tree at the bus stop, and happened to be on the back side of it, the bus passed right by. The driver did not know I was waiting, because I was waiting alone. Then one year I had a friend at the bus stop. My younger sister rode the bus with me and we got to wait together. We talked on the way up the hill, we played little games and raced to see who could make it to the bus stop first. We made jokes about the pedestrians, cars and a backhoe that routinely passed by. It was fun to wait together.
The Church is also a place where we can wait together. Much of our lives is spent in waiting, and this is by God’s design. Lamentations 3:25-26 says “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Although God uses waiting to teach his children, nowhere does He say we have to wait alone. God’s people are to encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25), bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) and offer hospitality to one another (I Peter 4:9). God is not expecting us to do these things only if and when we get our act together. If you struggle with depression, you are still called to encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ. If you juggle three kids and a full time job God wants you to help bear the burdens of your fellow believers. If you live with your parents God still expects you to offer hospitality without grumbling.
Because so much of life is made up of waiting, God has not left us alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit, who ministers to us both directly and through others in the Church. Therefore we are able to wait for God to provide you a job, together. We can wait for healing from cancer together. We can wait for our kids to sleep through the night together. We can wait for a spouse together. We can wait for your acne to clear up together. We can wait for your credit to be rebuilt together. We can wait for deliverance from anxiety together. And together we can wait for justice in this world. By God yes, we will wait for that.
We so deeply desire everything to be settled in this life, but these roadblocks, these annoyances and tragedies can be the very means God is using to wean us from sin, to knit our lives together and to redirect our gaze from earth to heaven.
Ultimately, we are waiting together for Jesus to return. In I Thessalonians 4:13-17 we are given a detailed description of what this will look like. Then we are told to “encourage one another with these words.”
I know that if my sister had been there when I was behind that tree, I would not have missed the bus. May none of us miss out on eternity because we tried to go it alone through this waiting that we call life. Waiting alone is hard. Let’s wait together.