Do you ever get tired of the waiting? The exhaustion of holding on to faith when fear seems so much closer? The pain of wanting never giving way to fulfilment? The ache of the same thing day after day when you long for it to change?
Is it hard not to grow cynical? To not allow the edges of your heart to grow hard because God doesn’t seem to be listening to your pleading? To quit with the hoping because hoping hurts too much when there’s no answer?
My heart knows all of that too well. And there are times when the joy of Christmas seems too far away because the waiting is especially hard during this season.
But recently, my heart has come to embrace this season of Advent and Christmas all the more because it is also about waiting.
We walk through the memories of prophecies of old, of the suffering of Israel and their need for a Savior, and of the clear way that God finally fulfilled those prophecies through the birth of Christ. We build up to the day of celebration through the wrapping of presents, the decorating of the house, the singing of songs.
And what is so beautiful about the waiting of the Advent season is that we know there’s an end point: Christmas day. All the preparation, all the celebration and festivities, all the anticipation – it has a clear end in sight, and it culminates in Christmas day.
This is God’s promise to us that there is always a purpose for our waiting and that he is a fulfiller of his promises. Israel had to wait thousands of years for their Messiah and four hundred of those in silence. But God came through. He shattered the darkness with a baby’s cry, with the proclamation of angels, with the dear desire of every nation, the joy of every longing heart.
He is a God who ends our waiting in the most beautiful way.
He didn’t forget Israel. He didn’t forget his promises or the prophecies – all of those were meant to be fulfilled in his perfect timing and in his perfect way. The people who were in the middle of waiting couldn’t always see this. But when we look back on history now, we can see how perfectly God worked it all out.
And He is the same God who doesn’t leave us alone in our painful seasons of waiting today. He knows how much it hurts. He also knows how much faith can be built in the quiet, ordinary days of learning to trust him through the waiting.
As finite humans, we can’t see the whole picture. We can’t see what God is working in us through our waiting. But this is where God calls us to trust him in humility. We have to surrender our desires for control and knowledge to the One who is all-powerful and all-knowing. And as we surrender, we find that He gives us peace.
He gives us peace to look around at the waiting and notice the blessings that abound.
He gives us peace to reach outside of ourselves and embrace others who are hurting.
He gives us peace to fully lean into our relationship with him as the most precious thing in our lives.
He gives us peace to stop anxiously worrying about the end of the waiting and start trusting him with the storyline, bends in the road and all.
And I find that each day of Advent waiting is a picture of my waiting in life. For there is great beauty in curling up by a lit Christmas tree morning and evening and pondering the Light of the World who shattered our darkness. There is great joy in knowing the decorations and gifts all point to the One who brought such beauty and joy into the world with the gift of himself.
And this reminds me to find the same beauty in other seasons of waiting. I might not know what the end result will be of this waiting. But I know there will be an end one day, even if that end is in heaven. I know because my God has promised it. And He’s already proven that he keeps his promises.
So I surrender my desires in the quiet waiting, day after day. I lift my eyes to the purpose he’s called me to. I do weep over the lack of what I don’t have, and I give it to Christ who fully understands my sorrow. And I praise him for bringing such joy into the world this time of year.
What a paradox.
Frail and weak,
Wrapped in swaddling cloths,
Yet with infinite power
Wrapped up in genes
Lined with divinity.
Mixed with flawed humanity –
He willingly chose our mortal flesh
So that we might see God face to face.
He was born of water and blood
So that he might be
Baptized in water
And crucified in blood –
The Deity bowing in submission
To the man’s finite death.
That baby’s cry
That pierced the night –
That was the cry
That hope was entering the world
At long last.
And we would be
Rescued from our sins
Because we had a Savior
Who arrived small and helpless –
But had eternal help
Etched into his every step on earth.
Photo by Laura Nyhuis on Unsplash.