The doctor’s waiting room is crowded and despite the fact that you have an appointment your expected ten-minute wait drags out to an hour of paging through the magazines you don’t really feel like reading. Meanwhile your stress levels increase considerably and by the time you are called in you’re ready to give the doctor a serve about keeping to schedules.
Scenes like this are all too familiar for most of us. Maybe in your case it wasn’t the doctor’s waiting room. Perhaps it was an appointment with your bank manager. Or perhaps you were stuck on a motorway that had suddenly turned into a carpark where no one was going anywhere in a hurry. We all know what it means to be kept waiting and in many such instances we have fumed in frustration – and sometimes not all that quietly either. We in our fast paced lives don’t like to be kept waiting.
Last week I spoke to the children at school about King David, who was also kept waiting. He had been anointed by Samuel as King over Israel. The only problem was that there was another man on the throne. David’s waiting lasted many years.
Add in the case of David we can into the mix that his years of waiting were not just passively sitting around waiting for King Saul to decease. The waiting of David was filled with efforts by King Saul to pin David to the wall with a spear or to hunt him down as a fugitive.
David filled at least some of that time singing. That’s a pretty good way to fill your time while you’re waiting – although others in the doctor’s waiting room might not appreciate you launching into your favourite hymn while you’re waiting for you turn in the doctor’s office. And another problem is that when we’re stuck on the motorway or in the bank manager’s office we really don’t feel like singing.
We know David sang because we have a number of Psalms that were written by David while he was fleeing from Saul. Psalm 18 is a classic example of that. Psalms like that shows us not only what a sanctified waiting looks like but how the child of God can cope with hardship during such times of waiting.
The point I made to the children was that God used that time in David’s life to shape and mould him into the kind of King that God wanted him to be. David steadfastly refused to take matters into his own hand in order to take the throne; instead he put his trust in his God.
In some ways a song like Psalm 18 hardly seems appropriate for a doctor’s waiting room. David sings of his enemies and the doctor is hardly an enemy. The point is however that David trusts in the Lord to work things out. These Psalms are very honest Psalms and some of them lament the situation in which David finds himself. However the point of the song is always that God is in control and that He is working out His purposes.
Times of waiting can be good for our sanctification. Do we really trust in God? Or do we only trust Him to grant us forgiveness and eternal life and not trust Him with the timetable we have to keep for the things that need to be done. It’s in times of waiting that “the rubber hits the road” and our faith is tested. Why be anxious when God is in control? In another such Psalm (54) David acknowledges that despite what is happening to him God is good.
There’s one more blessing that came out of David’s long wait to ascend the throne. We now have songs that give expression to our troubled souls in times of testing. We now have a song we can sing even when we’re stuck in traffic on the motorway. The big question is whether we will use that time of waiting to fume or to sing.