Monday, February 4, 2008

Lessons from the Waiting Room

My hours in a hospital waiting room lately don't compare with some other members of my family, but still, they've been adding up. While Tricia was in ICU for about 4 weeks we were blessed with a little room directly across the hall from her that was christened "The Hole". Most of my time there was with others, friends and family. Occasionally I was alone (but never without my laptop!).

In my other life as a pastor and chaplain I've spent countless hours with others as well. Some are church family; some are (until that moment) total strangers. All are there because of a medical crisis of some kind. And all have that one thing in common: waiting. Waiting for the surgeon to come and say "It went well" or "I'm sorry". Waiting for the waiting room attendant to make a fresh pot of coffee or for someone with the remote to please find something other than "The View" and Regis to watch. (Please give the remote to a man!)

And lately I've been thinking about things I've learned in those waiting rooms. They have been among the most real life and at the same time surreal experiences of my life. But out of them I'm learning many things about what it means to wait, and that waiting time doesn't have to be wasting time.

An oft quoted verse these past weeks has been Isaiah 40:31. But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (NLT)

I'm not an "omen" kind of guy. But on successive trips to visit Tricia, Gwyneth and Nathan, at the same spot on the highway a bald eagle flew directly over my vehicle. And God used that to remind me of that verse and the time I had spent and would be spending in waiting.

As I have time, I hope to write down some of those lessons. Maybe they'll be an encouragement.


Anonymous said...

- does wait on the Lord mean, wait- as in stop for a second until something happens, or does wait mean serve, as in wait on...
I used to think it meant the first, but now I wonder if it's the second. If I am serving the Lord, he will strengthen me, perhaps.

What do you think?

Rick Lawrenson said...

I had the same question. But I also know that God doesn't want us wondering about something like that. "Does it mean this or does it mean that?". Neither does he want us assigning our own meaning to it.

Good Bible interpretation isn't a matter of what I think it means, but of finding out what God and the author (in this case Isaiah) meant.

In this case the answer is as easy to find as a good Bible dictionary or concordance.

The word "wait" in that verse is the Hebrew "qavah". Quoting Strong's Exhaustive Concordance - "A primitive root; to bind together (perhaps by twisting), that is, collect; (figuratively) to expect:—gather (together), look, patiently, tarry, wait (for, on, upon)."

Then you can also compare it with the other verses using same Hebrew word. For example, "Wait for the Lord, and He will save you." (Prov. 20:22). Those comparisons help you understand that it means to wait, "as in stop...until something happens", not "serve".

Good question.

Anonymous said...

Good answer!

Anonymous said...

Please do...