I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:1-14
It’s been a weird year.
More cards and letters than weddings and birthday parties. More video calls than block parties or Sunday school picnics. More cooking home alone than eating out with friends; and, for many, more fear and panic than hope and joy.
A world used to drive-throughs, instant messaging, and automatic everything has been forced to do something it’s been building apps to avoid for years...wait. We have been told that eventually we will be able to travel, visit friends, and leisurely stroll through shopping malls again, but not right now. Right now, we must wait. And as we enter into the advent season, I can’t help but find similarities between this holy time and what we have been experiencing all year long.
Advent is a season of holy waiting, waiting for Christmas, for the commemoration of the day that Hope was born into the world. It’s a time of quiet expectation, a time to remember the first, and look forward to the second coming of Christ. It is a time to be still and trust that God will keep his promises.
The church has long revered patience as a virtue, and with good reason. The word “wait” is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible (no matter which version you’re using). Many times, God called his people to wait simply to test or strengthen their faith.
Abraham waited nearly a century for a son. Jacob waited 14 years to marry Rachel. The Israelites waited 40 years in the desert before entering the promised land. David waited many years after being anointed to become king. Mary waited nine turbulent months to see God’s promise to her fulfilled. Jesus waited 30 years to begin his ministry, and every Christian since the resurrection has been waiting for his return.
We are a waiting people...who have forgotten that in a world of instant gratification.
Our ability to “wait on the Lord,'' and our attitude during that time, reveals most clearly the condition of our faith. The Christian life is marked and shaped by our waiting. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Times of waiting are also often times of great internal struggle. It can feel like we’re Jacob wrestling with God in a long stretch of night (Gen. 32:22-32). But dawn breaks...always. And as with Jacob, the struggle brings the blessing.
We’ve lost a lot this year, but as it comes to a close, let us turn our eyes upon what we have gained, or better yet what we shall never lose. Let us thank God that we no longer wait for the birth of the Messiah - we know Him. Let us thank God that in our darkest hour, the Light still shines. Let us remember that all that we hold most dear here on earth is but dust, and pales beside the wonders of the life yet to come.
Let us be grateful for our year of advent, for we do not wait without hope.
Jesus, give us the faith to wait with hope and expectation. Allow our season of waiting to be a time of true spiritual and personal growth. We thank you, that we can wait in hope and peace, knowing that you will always keep your word. “We believe; Lord, help our unbelief” (Mark 9:24). In your name, Amen.