As a society, we tend not to like to wait. We expect to have information available at our fingertips and get frustrated when the wheel spins on a webpage for even a few seconds. The lines at fast food restaurants can never seem to go quickly enough. One article we read as a community during Advent, commenting on this trend, noted that we stand at the microwave for the one minute we have programmed it to heat, telling it to hurry up!

Psalm 27:14 encourages us: “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” Waiting requires — and teaches us — heroic boldness and resoluteness; it is not for the faint of heart. It calls forth the virtue of magnanimity: largeness of heart and soul, a willingness to do great things for love of God.

And yet this time of uncertainty has introduced a great deal of waiting into our lives: waiting to return to work, waiting for the kids to go back to school, waiting for Mass and the sacraments to be available again, waiting to travel or participate in other forms of entertainment, waiting to see what the future will hold. Our lives seem to be at a standstill, and yet a time of waiting is an opportunity to respond to grace.

Psalm 27:14 encourages us: “Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” Waiting requires — and teaches us — heroic boldness and resoluteness; it is not for the faint of heart. It calls forth the virtue of magnanimity: largeness of heart and soul, a willingness to do great things for love of God.

The Lord often requires His people to wait. The Israelites waited for hundreds of years to be freed from Egypt and return to the Promised Land. They waited for 40 years in the desert before being able to enter that land, and they waited yet again in exile in Babylon to be able to return to it. All of these periods of waiting were for them times of conversion, of returning to the Lord Himself. And throughout, they continued to wait for the promised Messiah.

Our Lady waited nine months after the Annunciation for the birth of the Savior. St. Joseph must have waited with her much of that time and also waited in Egypt, probably for years, for God to reveal to him that it was safe to return with his wife and Child to Nazareth. 

For three long days after the crucifixion, Our Lady and the disciples waited for Jesus to rise from the dead. The Apostles waited and prayed for nine days after Jesus’ ascension into heaven for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

A friend of our community said she thinks God is “pushing the reset button” for us. Surely this time of waiting can be an opportunity for us to let God show us what needs to be “reset,” to be converted, in our own lives. Let us have the courage to enter into the present moment of waiting, rather than longing for the ways things were in the past or desperately wanting to rush ahead to the future. 

We speak about “when things return to normal.” But if by “normal” we mean the way they used to be, we are deceiving ourselves. Nothing can ever be just the same again, because you and I are not the same people we were at the beginning of this year. Let us have the fortitude to admit this and to embrace the time of waiting as a gift from the Lord. Then, we shall truly be able to say with the Psalmist, “I have waited, waited for the Lord, and He stooped down to me; He heard my cry” (Psalm 40:2).

Sr. Mary Martha Becnel is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.