I was anxiously approaching 42 weeks of pregnancy, carrying our already-long-awaited little girl. I told myself I was familiar with waiting, had gleaned all the patience from the dark season of miscarriages I experienced before finally sustaining a healthy pregnancy. But two weeks past due, and two months into a nationwide lockdown following the declaration of a global pandemic, I was isolated, fearful of the unknown, mentally and physically tired. I realized what a novice I truly was… at waiting.
Our midwife assured us, “all is well, just wait.”
“Baby will come when she’s good and ready.”
Each morning I woke up still pregnant, still feeling growing feet kicking at my rib cage, still isolated from family and friends, I grew less hopeful and more afraid. Isn’t that so, quintessentially human? The longer we find ourselves waiting, the more we allow hope to slip through our feeble grasp. I was convinced that I would be the first woman to carry a grown child in her womb, pregnant forever, convinced that COVID-19 would keep us from celebrating all the long-expected joys of a first child’s birth and life. I would lie in bed at night, restless, my mind an abyss of one racing thought after another. God kept meeting me with these words in the dark: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25) (Ahem… isn’t that so, quintessentially God?)
I didn’t know then… how our country would spiral deeper into social and political turmoil in the months to come; how the pandemic would press on despite our human desire to return to life as we knew it before; how we would keep our precious daughter, who finally made her debut into a broken world on May 25th, 2020 (2.5 weeks past her due date), separated from her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and our dear friends.
I didn’t know how long we would have to wait.
All the while, there was the still small truth that I kept at arm’s length, bickered at, wrestled with, even looked at disdainfully sometimes: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him.”
Jesus kept whispering it to my weary heart, “wait.”
I know I’m not alone in mimicking David’s cry, “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13) If the last year of our world’s collective existence has screamed anything, isn’t it those words? “How long?”
How long will our smiles hide behind masks, will ‘social distancing’ be an ordinary part of our day-to-day vernacular?
How long will an ever more profound disparity exist in our society between fellow human beings, plagued by the construct of social, racial, and economic injustices?
How long will we ache for lost loved ones, for financial stability?
Even as I write these words, I feel heavy for all the unmentioned and profound ways we could echo David’s desperation.
I’m learning that the answer to that grand question and the million subsequent, specific questions that follow, may not be ours to know.
Perhaps the puzzle piece I have missed, the key that opens all the locks, the great comfort to a multitude of anxieties lies here… in the waiting.
I was told that to “wait” means to “entwine our heart with God’s.” The Hebrew definition of ‘qavah,’ ‘to wait,’ is loaded with literal and symbolic meaning. Figuratively, we know it to be synonymous with looking forward, hoping, eagerly expecting. Literally, the original Hebrew word communicated an act of binding, twisting together. In combining the literal and symbolic meaning of qavah, a profound word picture is painted: our feeble hands hold a delicate cord; God’s, an indestructible rope. In waiting, we move forward with intention- to tether our delicate cord fiercely to God’s- creating a lasting connection, bound to His strength. Waiting is more than passively idling with expectation. It is the great act of entwining, twisting the strands of our life’s cord with God’s. In getting ourselves near to Jesus in prayer, in meditating on His promises, in the moment by moment seeking of His Spirit, we wrap our heart’s cord to His- resulting in a binding strength that rescues us from the seas we’re drowning in.
There’s a Bible full of broken characters like David, real human beings who lived in the same tumultuous world that our girl was born into a couple thousand years later. Their lives, like ours, were marked by long seasons of waiting. The psalms record David’s ever-changing posture in his own waiting experience: sometimes, honest lament, an insurmountable sadness splayed out before God. Sometimes, an expressive frustration, a sort of wrestling with truths that felt hard to believe in. Sometimes, a stillness, a quiet heart praying for evidence of God’s presence. Sometimes, a soulful rejoicing, confident in the provision and goodness of God’s spirit in his life. Isn’t that so, quintessentially human? The map of our lives is never linear, it’s divergent and nuanced, a web of emotions constantly in need of untangling. I believe God tolerates, even welcomes, all sorts of nuance. He delights in our wrapping the aching pieces of our hearts to His- whether this looks like lament, frustration, stillness, or rejoicing.
So here I am, nearly a year into this global pandemic, 8 months into my precious child’s life- still waiting, in many ways. There are days of the week my waiting looks like lament. On the sunnier days, I’m rejoicing, whispering a thousand thanks for my daughter’s toothy grin. Each day, I hold this truth a little tighter: “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25)