May 24, 2023 – Acts 24

Among the eyes reading this, there are a number of different people with different struggles. But you want to know a challenge that all of us contend with, regardless of who we are? 

Waiting is hard. 

The reason for this is best illustrated by Dr. Strange from the Marvel movies (were you expecting that?). In “Avengers: Infinity Wars,” Dr. Strange is using his powers to look into the future and see which decision could make their plans successful. While the movie calls this a superpower, it’s really just that Dr. Strange is really good at “Decision Trees.” This practice is essentially mapping out all of the decisions and outcomes you can make, and an estimation of where those decisions lead you. These are used by those in the business world, non-profits, and individuals who want help seeing what’s going to happen. 

The strength of these is that you can follow any one decision and see these entire alternate “worlds” where a single change can often have a big effect. And often, when we’re waiting, that’s what happens: as we sit and await the outcome, we recognize that what happens will lead us down different paths in which our circumstances will look really different. When we’re waiting, there’s no decision to make, no action to take… there’s just waiting. 

In Acts 24, we read all about how Paul is stuck in this waiting period after being arrested. Because there was no one making sure he had access to a speedy trial, he was awaiting the judgment of someone who could either set him free, lock him up forever, or turn him over to the religious officials who were originally plotting to kill him. Those, to put it gently, are three very different outcomes.

But please note what Paul does. He gives an honest testimony. When summoned, he “spoke about faith in Christ Jesus.” (Acts 24:24) What he did not do was lie or try to bribe his way out, as the official was hoping he did. And what was he given in return? Two years passed and he was still left in prison (Acts 24:27).

Waiting is difficult – not just because we’re impatient, but because our lives will often be very different based on what happens. Whether it’s a test result, a call that may or may not come from a loved one, or an important Amazon package – the only important thing we can do is control who we are in that waiting period. 

Are we going to let anxiety eat away at all of our interactions and relationships, or are we going to stand in who we are in the midst of uncertainty? Regardless of what you’re facing, God is with you every step of the way, and we can pray not only for the outcomes but for the strength in waiting, as well.