I had a doctor’s appointment recently with an ENT. I had been waiting for this appointment for more than a week. I felt pain and couldn’t hear in one ear. I expected this visit to be like the six previous ones, all with short waits—in and out.

I was wrong.

WhenI expected to be in and out quickly I arrived on time for my appointment, the waiting room was packed (with almost everyone vaccinated in Israel, we’ve gotten back to this new normal). I assumed we were waiting for different doctors. But nope, it turned out that they were all for this one. I approached the secretary. She told me that there were supposed to be two doctors in, but one hadn’t been able to make it. There had been a glitch in the computer system and appointments had been double-booked. In short, it was a mess, and the wait would be very long.

I was given a choice: Go home and make a new appointment, or wait. Ear throbbing, I sat down.

Then the screaming began.

A man started to yell at the secretary about the wait. “Why didn’t they call patients before and tell them not to come?” He went on and on. And you know what? He was right. They should have called patients and told them the situation, giving them the option not to make the trip (which in his case apparently took two hours). Alternatively, they should have tried to get an additional doctor. Surely could have figured out something. He was right. But he was also wrong.

The poor secretary tried to calm him down. To tell him that they were doing the best they could, and that he could always go home and come back another time.

He continued yelling. Another man joined him. They sounded like a choir of complaints.

I felt bad for the secretary. I felt bad for the doctor, who was seeing as many people as he could as fast as he could. And I felt bad for these two men.

After an hour of waiting, an hour of sitting quietly in the backdrop of the yelling, I finally approached the two men.

“You are right,” I said. “It’s frustrating to wait, and indeed, there was a mistake. We should have at least been notified before coming. But we have had such a year of difficulties, and there is so much suffering. If this is our only tzar, our suffering, I’m happy with that. I receive it with love. This should be your only suffering!”

The security guard (who had been called in to calm the angry patients) answered, “Amen!” and the two men quieted down. After 90 minutes of waiting, it was my turn, and then at last, I went home.

There is a known teaching of the sages: “Even if one reaches his hand into his pocket to take out three coins, but two coins come out, it is considered a form of suffering” (Eruchin 16b).

We suffer when we have expectations that are not fulfilled. When we have plans, and these plans don’t align with G‑d’s plan. We think we should be given immediate service and instead have to wait. We thought we deserved to get something but received less instead.

TheWe suffer when we have unmet expectations teaching of our sages about the two coins reminds us that we have the opportunity to focus on what we’ve been given or what we are lacking. We can say, “Thank G‑d, it was just a small thing; let this minimal suffering be an atonement.” We can open our eyes to find our gratitude and not to take things for granted. During our daily prayers, there are many parts where we thank G‑d for what He has given us. This is our opportunity to keep thinking of new things we are grateful for.

We all have so many expectations in our lives—for ourselves, for our families, for the way we want things to go and people to behave. When it’s not G‑d’s plan to have our life go according to these expectations, we suffer. But instead of fixating on that, perhaps we can work more on gratitude—appreciating each precious breath that we take, the blessings we receive, and all the times that things do go according to our plans and our liking.