The Art of Waiting

Rule 49. Wait and hope, this is the sum of human wisdom.

This rule is from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The protagonist, Edmond Dantes, writes a letter to his protege, Morrel, in which he offers him a useful piece of advice.

monte cristo

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Never forget that until the day when God will deign to reveal the future to man all human wisdom is contained in these two words: “Wait” and “Hope.”

I have written before on this rule; but as life continues, we consider the words we’ve written and what those words mean with new experience. Truth remains unchanged by time, but life brings it new application.

We will tackle this rule in two articles: first, on the art of waiting, second, on strength of hope.


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As man we know not the future. We cannot. We are too close to our lives to gain even an unbiased perspective on it. We view our situations in the light of our emotions, rather than the cold light of history we view the past with. As man, there is little we can do about it. We will always long for such sight, but never attain it. For this reason, all we can do is wait patiently for what is to happen, hope that it will be good, prepared for it to be bad.

Is it not a mark of a true man who can wait for what he wants? In our world today we glorify the impatient, removing anything that delays our gratification. Everything we can make instant is instant. We don’t even want to wait for a cup of coffee to finish brewing in the morning.


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The proverb says, “All things come to him who waits.” This, however, is not an excuse for a lack of action. What point is it to wait if you are unprepared for what you want? Know what you wait for and prepare yourself for it. Likewise be prepared if it doesn’t come as soon as you wish.

Any one can give up the contest, but only the bravest and best can follow it up to victory. It requires no particular talent or wisdom to lose courage and decline to go forward, a very ignorant and inefficient person can do that; but the nobler attributes must push to the front to overcome difficulties and triumph; and patience is by no means the least important of these.

– Gaining Favor With God and Man by William M. Thayer


Rudyard Kipling wrote, “If you can wait and not be tired by waiting.” We cannot let ourselves tire. If we wish to grow, to mature, to gain ground, we will be forced to wait. Not passively, but actively waiting for our chance. Be content with waiting, but be complacent in nothing.


One thought on “The Art of Waiting

  1. I have spent many years waiting and hoping for various things, but this bit of wisdom seems particularly pertinent this summer, when I have spent months now sitting with my mom, waiting to find out if she’ll get well, and hoping she will. Both patience and hope keep us going. And if she doesn’t get well, then there is hope of a better life on the other side. But either way, “wait” and “hope” sum up this time in life.

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