The hurt’s so heavy, but the waiting room’s so full. There’s not a chair in sight. So many needs.

And so you slide down the wall to the floor, and hug your chin to your knees, and the nurse calls another, and someone else takes their seat.

It happens over and over, and you watch as each leaves in laughter.

And you’ve been here forever, and you’re sure you’ve been skipped over, forgotten. So you step to the window, but the staff shake their heads. Not yet. And the doctor, you see him over there by the scales, and your eyes meet, but he turns his head away and toward another.

He knows you. But He ignores you.

And you weep bitter tears. Your prayers clatter to the floor and lie there in pieces. Silence hisses from every corner, and it seems like all his promises are peeling away.

I’ve been reading in Matthew 15 about the Canaanite woman who cries for mercy because her daughter is so ill. But Jesus doesn’t respond at all. It’s like he doesn’t even hear. But she keeps on keeping on until his disciples beg him to send her away because she won’t shut up.

Finally Jesus answers that he was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel. But she doesn’t give up and throws herself at his feet and begs him for help.

It’s not right, he tells her, to snatch the children’s bread from their mouths and throw it to the dogs.

But, she presses, even beggar dogs get table scraps.

Astonished at her stick-to-itiveness, at her relentless faith, Jesus heals her daughter right then and there.

Her persistence pays off.

Paul Miller in A Praying Life comments on this story.

If Jesus were a magic prayer machine, he’d have healed this woman’s daughter instantly, and we would not have discovered her feisty, creative spirit. Likewise, Jesus’ ambiguity with us creates the space not only for him to emerge but us as well. If the miracle comes too quickly, there is no room for discovery, for relationship. With both this woman and us, Jesus is engaged in a divine romance, wooing us to himself.

The waiting that is the essence of faith provides the context for relationship. Faith and relationship are interwoven in dance. Everyone talks now about how prayer is relationship, but often what people mean is having warm fuzzies with God. Nothing wrong with warm fuzzies, but relationships are far richer and more complex.

He goes on to say that God permitted a difficult situation and then lingered at the edge of the story, not at the center. It’s hard, he says, to relate to pure light.

Maybe it’s that love grows deeper in the lingering and faith grows wider in the waiting.

And real relationship requires a little confusion and a lot of time.

When God seems silent and our prayers go unanswered, the overwhelming temptation is to leave the story–to walk out of the desert and attempt to create a normal life. But when we persist in a spiritual vacuum, when we hang in there during ambiguity, we get to know God. In fact, that is how intimacy grows in all close relationships.

Are you now or have you been in God’s waiting room of unanswered prayer? How can we at BibleDude wait with you or pray for you?


in the waiting room of unanswered prayer

by Sandra Heska King time to read: 3 min