A second-string high school basketball player knows exactly what it means to sit on the bench. He faithfully attend practices. He works just as hard as the first-string guys. He's pumped and eager to play the game. The whistle blows. He waits. The first quarter passes, and he waits. He cheers enthusiastically for his team. The clock ticks on toward the half. He tries staying excited and ready—just in case the coach gives him the nod. But before he knows it, the game is over, and he never got his chance.
Discouraged, self-doubt trickles in: Why didn't Coach put me in? Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe I should quit the team.
Life has a way of keeping us on the bench sometimes.
We don't get the job promotion. We lose a job we loved. A project falls through. The savings account is empty. A long-awaited vacation must be canceled. Someone else gets the lead part in the play. Writers await that promising proposal to be acknowledged, a response from an agent, a new idea to strike.
We wait. Sitting on the bench. Wondering. Questioning. Should I quit the team?
Once I heard a dad say that whenever his daughter complains about sitting on the bench, he asks, “What is God trying to tell you through this time on the bench?” I'm sure the daughter wasn't eager to hear that question anymore than I want to be reminded of it when I'm feeling grumpy over something not going my way. But the truth of the matter is, What is God saying to me during the time that I am on life's bench?
In James it says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
While discouragement and doubt may hound me during my times on the bench, perseverance and patience are being worked out in my life, if I will only let them. Sure, it's tough to sit there and not make the game go the way I want. Certainly, I want to be the one charging up the court, making baskets, and everyone cheering, seeing me be successful. But for whatever reason, it's not my time. For me—and maybe for some of you—it's bench time. And while I'm here, if I listen, if I lean on God, I'll see that something good is happening within me. I am discovering a different perspective. A wider view. A calmer heart. Peace.
God is working out something good in me—and my attitude is changing toward this bench time.