So the other day I called my phone company to add a personal hotspot to one of the lines on my plan. I was on hold for over 2 hours so eventually the soothing music was not so soothing and I was worried that I would be cut off and have to start over. It reminded me of Phoebe Buffet from the TV show Friends who was on hold for 2 days. Eventually I got through and the situation was taken care of, but it got me thinking about how to behave when life is put on hold. Most of us are not used to being slowed down and we don’t like having to stay home. We don’t like waiting for our turn; we don’t do well with long lines; we can’t stand a lack of choices or being limited in any way. Yes, it is hard to be patient, to take orders from authorities, to feel out of control (As if we ever had control anyway!) Yet, this exactly what we are called every day – to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer, Rom.12:12.
The Bible is full of people whose lives were on hold and most were for much longer than 2 hours or 2 days. Joseph was on hold for 2 years in prison. Abraham and Sarah waited for years for an heir and Hannah for a son. Paul waited a long time to be a missionary to the gentiles. Heb. 11:13 says that some people who waited even died in faith before receiving the answer at the end of the long hold! Think about this: being on hold can actually be a good thing, especially if we let faith change us even before it changes our circumstances. Seeds die before a harvest is reaped. Germs are thwarted when we don’t touch anything. Patience’s perfect work makes us complete.
There is a sense that this time of social distancing and quarantine is like being on hold. We have no idea when the order to stay at home will be lifted. We don’t have any idea when the store shelves will be restocked or if the stock market will stop sliding downhill. Being on hold is not fun but God is more concerned about how we conduct ourselves while “on hold”. We can sit angrily and plan a sharp response to the person who will eventually answer at the other end, or we can do plenty of other things while waiting our place in the queue! We can exercise. We can pray. We can put on someone else’s “shoes”. We can tidy up our “waiting” room. We can practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques. We can let God be God. We can look ahead and make plans for the celebration when we are finally released from the temporary prison of being on hold.
I think the best thing to do while being on hold is to hold on. Hold on to hope. Hold on to joy. Hold on to the promises. Hold on to the One who first laid hold of us (Phil. 3:12). Let’s hang on and hang in there together.