I’m in a season of waiting without an end in sight. I’m single, yet my heart desires a mate—a companion, someone to journey through life alongside me. I’ve been waiting for this person for decades, but it feels especially weighty and fresh today.
Life hasn’t panned out as I’d hoped or expected. I imagine you can relate. On this side of Eden, we all long for a variety of good things. We wait for a spouse, but are entrusted with singleness. We wait for children, but know infertility. We wait for the prodigals to come home, but feel their absence. We wait for a job, while the bills pile up. We wait for peace, yet are acquainted with conflict. All of us are waiting for something.
Stories of Waiting
We often describe our lives in terms of books and stories. I’m starting a new chapter. We weren’t on the same page. That job is a closed book now. Longing for purpose and resolution, I’ve often thought, I could endure much more patiently if I knew the purpose, if I could see the ending.
It’s part of why I love stories. I love rereading and reliving a beloved novel. I love when the pages become wrinkled and worn from vigorous turning. I love the crease in the spine that allows the book to lay flat, opened to my favorite scene. I love knowing how the story will end.
Yet as much as I enjoy experiencing books for the second or third or fourth time, there’s something special about a new novel. I read it differently since I don’t know how it ends. I experience the highs and lows alongside the characters. I’m waiting with them, trying to figure out where the story is going, but not knowing what to expect. There’s a sense of expectation and excitement to see how the author will finally put together all the pieces of the puzzle.
Biblical Stories of Waiting
When I reread a book and see the finish line clearly, I can miss the tension of the waiting in my hurry to get to the resolution. Knowing what’s coming, I read a little faster to get to the “happily ever after.”
I often do the same thing with the Bible.
I think most of us do. With familiar stories we can skim past the painful times of waiting to get to the good parts, to the periods of resolution and joy. Though our intent is good, we miss out on the fullness of the story and its emotions when we skip to the end.
As I thought about this tendency, I remembered a book I read a few years ago. The author discussed the ways we celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection today. We have Maundy Thursday or Good Friday services to focus our hearts on the death of Christ. We mourn the darkness. But then, reading the Scriptures like a well-loved and well-known novel, we jump straight to Sunday and celebrate the resurrection. We rejoice!
But what about Saturday?
What did the disciples feel on Saturday? Sorrow? Numbness? Disbelief? Hope? Did they intuitively sense any of tomorrow’s approaching grandeur? Did they think their past three years were wasted? Did they yearn for a miracle? Before we skip to the “He is risen” of Sunday, it’s important to reflect on Saturday—to consider the sorrow, the disappointment, and, above all, the waiting.
Saturdays of Waiting
In a sense, we all live Saturday lives. We mourn the brokenness of the world, yet we know God wins in the end. We have an astonishing hope beyond all we can think or imagine (Eph. 3:20). But today, in many ways, we’re waiting for the miracle, waiting for the resolution, waiting to see and understand the larger story.
Our lives are filled with longings and unmet expectations. We wait. We say there’s purpose in the waiting, but we often try to move the story of our lives along to get to a better chapter. We have the tendency to miss what God is doing in our hearts now as we walk in the tension of the unknown.
In this life we get glimpses of God’s work, but we don’t know the whole story. We mourn the state of the world, and we hope for the coming redemption. We’re challenged and refined in the midst of the waiting.
In the midst of our Saturdays, it’s encouraging to know the Lord’s silence doesn’t equal his absence. May we experience the ever-present hope of the coming Sunday, the eternal Sabbath, even as we wait in the Saturday circumstances of our lives today.
Editors’ note: For more on this important topic, see Betsy Childs Howard’s book Seasons of Waiting: Walking by Faith When Dreams Are Delayed (Crossway, 2016) [review | excerpt | excerpt | excerpt].