The Weight of Waiting, Part One
"11 What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? 12 Is my strength the strength of stones, or is my flesh bronze? 13 Have I any help in me, when resource is driven from me?"
- Job 6:11-13
Most of us are familiar with the story of Job - a man who had everything, lost everything, cried out to God, and was restored. Forty-two long chapters of the worst suffering imaginable wrought by the hands of Satan. Few people in the Bible know what it means to wait more than Job.
Waiting is the experience of those who exist in time. Throughout life, we are waited on, then upon, and on again. Watching my son grow, I'm reminded that at times our bodies wait on our mind, and then at other times, our minds wait on our body.
All of our waiting is an acknowledgment of the fact that we exist in time as finite beings subject to the laws of nature, which means we don't experience life anachronistically (apart from time or all at once), nor with the unfettered power to create out of nothing. We live moment-by-moment and must manipulate the resources available to us through (very) limited exertion. Waiting means we're not God. It means we're creatures dependent upon a Creator.
Job's testimony and experience are helpful for us waiters. His words, by his own testimony, are rash and candid (Job 7:11-12). Yet, at the same time, he can acknowledge the effect that suffering is having on his faith and reason, loosing his tongue to say things he maybe only half-heartedly means (Job 6:26).
These verses from Job grip us in a visceral way because he verbalizes something we all miscalculate in our suffering: "How long and why?"
Waiting without hope is waiting without strength, or, to say it positively, hope is our strength in the waiting. But suffering blurs our hope in the waiting of life. It echoes the present into the perpetual future, contrary to reason and especially against the many promises of life.
We are not immune to such despair. Job feels weak (without strength, v.11a), hopeless and doomed ("what is my end," v.11b), and helpless, unable to control or change his situation (v.13).
And yet, as external readers, we know only his weakness to be true. His suffering is not without hope (2 Cor. 4:17). His weakness not without God's strength (Isa. 41:10; 2 Cor. 12:9-11). His present pain not without future comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-4). His helplessness and lack of resources not without Him who owns "the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm. 50:10), who sees the affliction of his people and hears their cries (Psalm 34:15), being rich in mercy and mighty to save (Eph. 2:4; Zep. 3:17).