Waiting for God and Christmas
Waiting has become so much a part of our lives that we try every means to endure it without losing our temper or sanity. And some of us even attempt to spiritualize or look for a deeper meaning in waiting.
Recently, I spent more than an hour sitting in a car on Edsa and another two hours in a hallway waiting for a 10-minute consultation with my cardiologist. Fortunately, I prepared for it by taking my iPad with me. I solved puzzles in Sudoku, read some chapters from a novel in Kindle, and jotted down story ideas in Notes. I went home thinking that my waiting did not go to waste because I prepared and waited for it patiently.
My waiting episode reminded me of the story of the young woman who was waiting for a butterfly to emerge from its cocoon. She got totally fascinated by the whole process, until she grew impatient and wanted to speed it up. She decided to experiment and gently heated the cocoon with artificial light. The butterfly soon emerged from the cocoon but with a defect. It had wings but they were stunted; the butterfly was unable to fly due to the young woman’s impatience. Lesson learned: We cannot be impatient with nature.
Come to think of it, neither can we be impatient with God.
All too often, we are impatient with God when He seems not to answer our prayers. But God, as an old Jewish saying puts it, “is never in a hurry to answer our prayers”…
A few years ago, my wife and I were faced with the prospect of not being able to sustain our youngest child through medical school. And so I left for the United States with a prayer for me to land a job that would bail us out of our predicament.
After six months or so, however, I was still without a job. As an immigrant, I tried the usual means like sending out numerous resumés, availing myself of the city’s community placement services, and asking for referrals from friends. But to no avail. I started to get panicky and thought that God was not answering my prayers. But I heeded Saint Paul’s counsel that “since we hope for what we do not see, we wait with patience” (Romans 8:25).
Not long after, I received an email from my wife’s uncle and aunt on her mother’s side. They were both retired elderly doctors in the United States who had set aside a modest sum for a scholarship grant to any relative who wanted to go to medical school. The email read: “Danny, quit looking for a job and go home. We are granting a full tuition scholarship to Dani Mae.”
The scholarship grant was God’s answer to my prayer! He gave it not in the form I had asked for, but in His own way and in His own time! But clearly for me, my patience had paid off.
“It’s not that God wants to test our patience,” explains Fr. Ron Rolheiser, the Oblate priest and spirituality author. “The need for patience arises out of the rhythms innate within life itself and within love itself. They need to unfold, as do butterflies, flowers and pregnancies, according to their own innate rhythms and within their own good time. They cannot be rushed, no matter how great our impatience or how great our discomfort… And neither can God be rushed, because it is His timetable that protects us from stunting love and life.” (“Patience with God,” www.ronrolheiser.com)
It dawned on me that when we wait patiently, we begin to see that what we wait for is not in our hands. We learn to hope, trusting God’s response will come soon.
That must be the reason why the Catholic Church observes the season of Advent, for us to prepare and wait for Christmas. In doing so, the Church sanctifies the art of waiting and teaches us to wait patiently for “the One Who is to come” (Matthew 11:3).
Danilo G. Mendiola, 77, is a proud father of four grown-ups and doting grandfather of four loveable grandchildren. He lives a quiet life in Quezon City with his wife.