The Waiting Is Worth It!
by Elder Sue Kim Lee
This is what some people said when they queued for some eight to 10 hours to pay their last respect to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew when his body was lying in state at the Parliament House recently. They said it was worth it even though the time they were given to pay respect was only about two to three minutes. Some others in the queue gave up along the way, for valid reasons, I’m sure. Some decided not to join the queue, deterred by the long waiting time.
A more recent development is the queue to see the In Memoriam: Lee Kuan Yew exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore where his ‘Red Box’ has stirred much public interest. The papers reported a four-hour long waiting queue on the Good Friday holiday. This patient waiting at the Padang and the National Museum is exceptional in a fast pace society like Singapore where it is not uncommon to see people fume over a slow queue at the payment counter at the supermarket, or on the road when you hear blaring of horns or flashing of lights if one driver had to trail behind a slow-moving road hog. Well, I suppose when people know for sure they can achieve their end goal then they are more prepared to bite the bullet and wait in the queue, be it four hours or 10 hours. I remember many years back when McDonald’s was offering Hello Kitty with their meal orders; I saw a long queue of people on my way to work at Peace Centre in the early hours of the morning. Innocently I thought they were going on a tour with a tour agency there. I was amused when I found out the truth of the situation. More recently while travelling through Orchard Road I saw a long queue of people snaking around the building where OG Department Store is located. It must be the sale they felt worth waiting for!
On the flip side there are also people who want to get what want but they don’t want to wait. They take short cuts if they can. Some people cut queues in order to get ahead. I recalled an incident at Ocean Park in Hong Kong when my children and I were at a queue to board a bus to go back to our hotel. The queue was very long and we didn’t know how long it would take us to get into a bus to be on our way. Then there was this ang moh lady who came up to us with a slip of paper with the name of a place scribbled on it and asked which queue she should take. A couple in front of us who looked like they were Hong Kongers told her she was in the right queue for her destination. We all presumed she would go back to the starting point and joined the queue from there. Instead, she kept inching forward asking different people the same question. By the time the bus was open to take passengers she was the first to board the bus. That’s the work of a strategist, not an innocent lost tourist asking for directions!! Short cuts at the expense of other people!
Waiting is never easy. It involves time. It takes patience. It requires perseverance. And it tests our faith.
Anyone who has spent time waiting – either for results of an important exam; or for results of a medical examination; or for birth of a baby; or for a taxi to get to the airport; and other perhaps more trying situations – will know how agonising and uncomfortable it is. Perhaps an indication or hint of how long we need to wait might make things easier, for example, a date is given, or to know that the bus we’re waiting for is coming in 5 minutes, but if it is open-ended and we don’t know when it is going to happen then it is a different matter altogether. It chews on our patience.
From the spiritual perspective waiting is a very powerful process that God uses to shape us into vessels that reflect the light of His glory. Through waiting God grows patience in us. There is no other way to learn patience except to go through the process of waiting. When we allow God to take us through the journey we will begin to see the fruit of the Spirit taking shape in our lives – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. The waiting is worth it!
Certainly we are often tempted to take short-cuts because waiting is agonising or, we are uncertain whether we will eventually get what we’re waiting for. We could have missed the boat if we’re too slow in getting there. Why not speed up the process, take a short-cut to get there. Sarah tried it on Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as uncountable as the stars in heaven (Genesis 15). And Abraham and Sarah were childless at that point. Instead of trusting God and allowing Him to fulfill His promise in His own time and in His own way, Sarah took things into her own hands and messed things up (Genesis 16). Short cuts are not acts of faith to help God fulfill His promise or plan. It is interference into God’s plan and God’s schedule of things to come.
In contrast, in our study of the book of Acts we see the fulfillment of God’s promise and a beautiful unfolding of God’s plan through the process of waiting and obedience. In the early part of Chapter One, Jesus told his disciples not to leave Jerusalem and to wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit that God has promised. Jesus also told them they that they will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on them and they will be His witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Jesus didn’t say when it was going to happen, or how long they would have to wait, or how it was going to happen. They were just told to wait. How did the disciples respond to the Lord’s instructions? This is something we can to learn from them.
“Then they immediately returned to Jerusalem….when they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying…..they all joined together constantly in prayer…” (Acts 1:12-14)
They waited in obedience. They waited in anticipation. They were constantly in prayer. They simply waited for God to fulfill what He promised. No rush. No questions. No short cuts. They were constantly in prayer. They didn’t do anything to interfere with God’s instructions. They simply waited in obedient faith. From Luke’s record of the events that followed from Acts 1:8 to Acts 8 & 9, we see a beautiful and amazing unfolding of how God worked out His plan to spread the gospel beyond Jerusalem using the people whom He called to His carry out His mission. It’s God’s work. He worked through His disciples and events happening to them. We see God’s glory revealed. The waiting is worth it!
If you are waiting for God for an answer to your prayer and God has been silent, don’t give up on God. Learn from the disciples, be constantly in prayer. Even as you wait, God may not give you the answer you hope for but He will transform you in the process to be more like Him. He wants to make you shine for His glory. May His glory be revealed in and through your life! Hopefully someday you can tell your King of Kings and Lord of Lords, “The waiting is worth it!”
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)￼￼