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To wait, or not to wait, that is the question

June 01, 2019 - Saturday 4:06 AM by E.R. Nartatez

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Science no doubt is the most powerful tool that mankind has ever created. It’s humanity’s most outstanding achievement (to date), totally dominating the world today through its application in technology.

And the creations of technology have brought a lot of wonders to the world, almost miraculous wonders. It’s undeniable that the world has been transformed—for better or worse—by science and technology.

Human life itself has also been transformed because of science. In so many ways our lives have been made so much easier, quicker, and faster because of technological wonders. Smartphones prove this beyond the shadow of doubt. With smartphones we can have easy and instant access to all sorts of information and entertainment; the answer to all your questions is just a google away (exaggerating of course). With smartphones we can talk with almost anyone, anytime, and anywhere in the planet!

Gen’ers or Gen Z’ers (those born after 1995) are so spoiled when it comes to communication that they would find the idea of the Postal Service absolutely difficult to fathom!

Wanna have lunch in Hong Kong? It’s just two to three hours away, and you can be back for dinner the same day!

And then there’s this craze for the “instant”: instant coffee, instant oatmeal, fast food, drive through, etc. etc.

Life’s a lot easier, faster, and quicker because of the wonders of science and technology. We can and should be thankful for all these, of course. I’m not complaining.

However, looking at things from another perspective, from the perspective of faith and spirituality, this fast and furious kind of life, this expectation for the quick and easy, for instant gratification, seems to be inconsistent or even diametrically opposed to the reflective and thoughtful life that traditional faiths encourage.

Eastern thought as expressed in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism, for example, encourage a meditative and withdrawn lifestyle even to the point of abandoning the self and its natural cravings. This is not possible in a life set in high gear.

And speaking from the perspective of the Christian faith, the expectation for instant gratification in life goes against the life that God has designed for us. How so? An illustration may help.

Parents want their kids to be happy, naturally. However, this can become a problem. If not done in wisdom and discipline, this tends to spoil children. How? When parents give kids WHAT they want, WHEN they want it (meaning ‘now’ or at least ASAP).

What do spoiled kids look like? What’s perhaps their most outstanding characteristic? Brats hate waiting. They don’t like to wait; they don’t have the patience to wait. When they don’t get what they want quickly, they get upset, become sad, they cry and get angry, they throw a tantrum, sometimes they even scream at their parents ‘I hate you’ and throw things at them.

Spoiled kids measure life in terms of how fast and how quick they get their needs and wants met. They can be cute when they’re little, but if they don’t outgrow being a brat, well, they simply never grow up. They’ve never allowed themselves to learn the many life-shaping and life-enhancing values of waiting.

Truth be told, this fast and furious, instant gratification, quick and easy life is the kind of life that the modern world shoves at us.

For the thoughtful Christian, this is a serious problem. This need for speed life is literally diametrically opposed to the life as God designed it. When it comes to life, God is old school and very traditional. When the world tells us to rush things, to hurry, to want and get things now, immediately and instantly, God says WAIT.

The world majors on rushing, God majors on waiting. Let’s look at some prominent examples:

  •  God promised Abraham a son through Sarah; but he had to wait 30 tough years before Isaac was born.

  •  In a dream God told Joseph he will become a great ruler. But Joseph had to wait some 20 years of hardship before that became a reality (sold by his own brothers, became a slave in Egypt, falsely accused and put in prison).

  •  God promised the land of Canaan to Israel, but the promise had to wait 400 years of slavery to Egypt before it was fulfilled.

  •  When Moses led Israel out of Egypt, they could have reached Canaan in a matter of weeks, but God led them the long way, and they had to wait and walk for 40 hard years to reach the Promised Land.

  •  God had the prophet Samuel anoint David as King over Israel, but what happened after that? David had to wait some 20 to 30 years before he sat on the throne. And he wasn’t waiting in his nice villa in the farm sitting and sipping his freshly brewed coffee; no, he was running for his life and hiding in caves, in the wilderness, in enemy camps!

What do all these stories tell us?

  1. In life, God doesn’t like short cuts.

  2. In life, He enrolls his kids in Hard Knocks University where brats are weeded out.

When it comes to practical living, science and technology do wonders for us. But in the deeper realities of life, in life with God, waiting is a prerequisite course to graduate well in the school of life.

To practice the disciplining of waiting in life means to stop (turn off the TV, put smartphone in silent mode, be in solitude, and so forth), then to reflect, muse, meditate, pray, 'Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife,’ says the poet Thomas Gray. It is to live the ‘examined life,’ according to Socrates. Or, as Jesus said it more forcefully, “when (not ‘if’ but ‘WHEN’) you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward.” (Matthew 6:6)

Here’s a short but beautiful word on waiting: