The name Job is synonymous with suffering – 1) The Lord permits a series of afflictions by the accuser to happen to Job; 2) three friends come to console him; 3) Job makes a complaint which results in a number of soliloquies; 4) the friends try to convince Job that it was because of his sin and wrongdoing that the Lord is punishing him; 5) Job rejects their explanations and challenges God to respond to this accusation; 6) Elihu, one of Job’s lousy/toxic friends tries to sway Job to the friends’ arguments; 7)The Lord answers Job’s plea to hear directly the reason for his suffering; 8) The Lord answers through an exegesis of the wonders of creation; 9) Job becomes content with this explanation and the Lord restores Job to his fortunes. (The Book of Job).

Underlying this series of suffering, is the idea of waiting. In almost a purgatorial light and fashion, Job waits for the Heavenly Father to answer his prayer, but the Father does not answer him immediately. Instead the Father permits the suffering to unfold and develop. It is definitely not a coincidence that the name Job means, “Where is the Heavenly Father?” (USCCB, n.d.) As Job longs for the Face of the Father, the depths of his sufferings intensify. Yet, Job does not renounce God, or his faith, but has a child-like acceptance and docility to what unfolds. He does not understand what is happening to him, but his faith allows him to trust that God the Father has a better plan for him, and knows what He is doing.

Singaporeans are highly efficient, and as part of our innate cultural heritage, we want things to be done quickly, efficiently, and well. While we may queue in line for the latest hawker sensation, there appears to be a cut-off to how much and how long we can wait. Only the fanatic camp out over night waiting for the latest soft toy, event ticket, or gadget drop. Yet, this constant drive and societal culture towards high-efficiency can also be a double-edged sword. While, this penchant to queue, sometimes over hours, may seem as good training grounds for the inculcation of virtues such as hope and patience, when it comes to waiting for the Lord, we often do not fare so well.

Perhaps, the fundamental difference between our ordinary waiting and waiting for the Lord, is culminated in the knowledge of what we are waiting for. Waiting for the Lord can be frustrating for many as they grapple with their interior restlessness, and also with the vulnerability and uncertainty of what we are waiting for. Whereas, waiting in a queue for something – a cup of bubble tea, a car… has some sort of tangibility and finality about it. We know what we are in the queue for, and what to expect at the end of wait.

Fr. Terrance Klein (2015) has written an in-depth review of Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot and perhaps we can draw inspiration of how this existential waiting in the play, is relevant to our own lives as we in turn wait upon the Lord to move, act, instruct, and speak. In Waiting for Godot, the 2 main characters, Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for a mysterious Godot to arrive. Godot sends word that he would arrive soon, but the caveat is that Godot does not arrive even at the end of the play, so the entire play simply revolves around these two oddball characters as they hang around, do nothing, and wait. As they wait, these characters share stories, dance a little, sing a little, dream a little, talk a little, and then continue to wait. The play then ends off open-ended and without closure.

There is a sneaky allegory to the waiting for Christ – As the play comes to a close, Vladimir asks Estragon what he is doing with his boots, and Estragon replies while laughing that he is leaving his boots for someone else, and that those boots would make someone happy. Vladimir then protests that Estragon cannot go barefoot, to which Estragon replies, “Christ did”.  Vladimir then says, “Christ! What has Christ got to do with it. You’re not going to compare yourself to Christ!” and Estragon replies with the kicker line, “All my life I have compared myself to him.” (Beckett, n.d. Act 2)

St. Thomas Aquinas writes of two virtues in the Summa Theologiae (1920). The first is patience – it comes about from how the soul loves a supernatural good with a love that is strong enough to allow it to bear up against the evils that make a person sad, and that which act to break his or her spirit. The sufferings that are encountered are carried with an untroubled mind. The second is longanimity. It is a virtue that is longsuffering. It carries with it a kind of spiritual foresight that takes in the big picture and waits for God and the eventual unfolding of his grace. Longanimity is defined as,

“Extraordinary patience under provocation or trial. Also called long suffering … It includes forbearance, which adds to long suffering the implication of restraint in expressing one’s feelings or in demanding punishment or one’s due. Longanimity suggests toleration, moved by love and the desire for peace, of something painful that deserves to be rejected or opposed.” (Hardon, 2000; Catholic Culture, n.d.; Barber, 2021)

There is a beauty that is hidden within the practice of longanimity. It chooses hope over despair. To choose the longanimity route takes the long-term view that there is something beautiful in the distance, and that because we are confident of what we see in the distance, we can move confidently towards it (Barber, 2021).

In essence, patience focuses on the difficulties – in focusing on the suffering, patience fortifies the soul and strengthens it. While longanimity focuses on the good. Longanimity moves and directs the soul towards something good that we have longed for, especially a good that has been a long time in coming (Smart, 2019). Perhaps longanimity is a type of active waiting – as Henri Nouwen suggests, the secret of active waiting is the belief and the resolve that what we are awaiting for, is already on its way – that the seed to the future has already been planted and cared for, and that a harvest in the future is assured (Nouwen, 1993).

The problem is that as we wait for the Lord, our waiting becomes entangled with a lot of self-imposed limitations and wishes – “I wish that I could be working in the other company instead;” “I wish this thing never happened;” “I wish life could be easier.” While there is nothing wrong with wishing, our wishing is often caught up in the present moment – because we are also bound by the chronology of time, and is not filled with a hopeful gaze towards a horizon that only God knows. The invitation thus, is to give up and let go of our lifetime of wishing, so that God in His providence and goodness, can begin to act as He knows best. In letting go of these wishes that we are preoccupied with, we allow God to give us something new, beyond our wildest dreams and expectations. The invitation is precisely to let go of this tight-fisted control of our lives and to let God be free to define our purpose (Sánchez, 2013).

What if we consider waiting via a different paradigm? What if waiting and its tedium, are gifts that the Lord God has intended for us? I am not waiting because I lack something, but that this time of waiting carries its own purpose as gift. St. Peter says, “consider the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (2 Peter 3: 15) and again, “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Waiting is the evidence that God our Father is giving us the time that we need. Whoa! Hold up! Wait a minute! What does this mean? This doesn’t make sense, but I need that job at this moment, right now. I need to pay my bills right now…

Kelly Scott Franklin (2018) proposes that the act of waiting is for us, because it first, turns us back to God, the giver and provider of every good thing in prayer and reminds us that we need to depend fully on God. Second, waiting helps to purify our desire and to help us see clearly if whether what we want is in alignment to the will of God. Third, waiting increases patience in us.

Franklin (2018) goes on to suggest that waiting is in fact an opportunity. In our current circumstances, God is offering us a call, and we need to grab this opportunity in this current mission field. There is a need to discern what God is calling us to do in our current circumstances, and often times, there is frustration because we cannot see the purpose of the current season.

It is true that waiting purifies the soul – very much like how Purgatory would do. It prepares us to fully encounter God our Father, and the fullness of the gift (s) that He has in store for us. There are many reasons why we may in our cross walk encounter many seasons of waiting.

  1. There is danger ahead, and the Lord God is telling us to hold our ground, as the danger before us is cleared away by God’s hand, so as to allow us to advance in safety.
  2. We are not ready for what is to come ahead, so waiting is a time of training that will prepare us for the next season of our lives.
  3. The waiting is a gift of time – and requires us to do something before we can clear the stage and the level. It is at this stage that many give up, and we re-start from ground zero.
  4. A season of waiting is a time of temporal punishment – while we are completely forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we would still need to pay the temporal consequences of our sins. So taking the allegory of committing a crime – a crime has its consequence and must be paid in full before the person is free to go. Likewise, when we sin, there is a consequence that must be bore out. Sometimes a season of waiting, is precisely the time of probation/ parole that needs to free us and clear us of our sin.
  5. We have not learnt the lesson that we needed to learn, so the time of waiting helps us to study in preparation to re-take the test that is to come.

Waiting is very difficult indeed. By God’s sense of humour, we have some saints who have experienced our exact same issues as they waited. Let us call out to them for help:

  • St. Monica
  • St. Philip Neri
  • St. Francis de Sales
  • St. Zélie Martin
  • St. Thérèse of Lisieux
  • St. Mark Ji Tianxiang
  • St. Peter
  • St. James the Greater
  • St. James the Lesser


By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan




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Franklin, K. S. (2018). Every Human Being Shares the Cross of Waiting. National Catholic Register. Retrieved February 16, 2023 from

Hardon, J. (2000). Modern Catholic Dictionary. Eternal Life Publications.

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Nouwen, H. (1993). The Spirituality of Waiting. The Weavings Reader. (Ed. Mogabgab, J. S.) Upper Room Books.

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Smart, T. (2019). Longanimity: The virtue of waiting for God. McGrath Institute for Church Life. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved February 16, 2023 from

St. Thomas Aquinas. (1920). The Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. (2nd and revised edition). Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Retrieved February 16, 2023 from

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (n.d.) Commentary on Job 1:1. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Retrieved February 16, 2023 from