For the past several years, our Christmas cards held exciting announcements. We got married. I graduated with my master’s degree. My husband was commissioned as an officer in the Army. We gave birth to our little girl. We moved. We got new jobs. Every Christmas we were able to celebrate reaching another life milestone.
Until this year. This year as I create my Christmas cards, it seems that so many big life changes are within reach, but not quite here. We’re still in the long home study process for our adoption. We miscarried. Professional goals have yet to be reached. We’re waiting.
I’m not at all saying that God hasn’t been faithful this year. We can look back from month to month and see answered prayers, but so many of his answers this year have been to wait. I don’t like to wait, but the Advent season is all about waiting. Advent reminds us of Israel’s expectant waiting as they longed for God’s promised Messiah. It stirs our longing for the second coming of our King. Advent is a celebration of waiting.
Our God isn’t a God of instant gratification. There’s no Amazon Prime membership for our prayers, guaranteeing the answer we want in two days plus free returns. In our culture, we see waiting as a setback. The terrible rush hour traffic, the one checkout line open at the grocery store, the loading icon on Netflix—every moment that causes us to pause is a moment lost. Not so in God’s Kingdom.
One passage that God has brought to my mind over and over again this year is from Lamentations, a book full of Jeremiah’s grief over the fall of Jerusalem and his waiting for God’s salvation of Israel. It is in a book of mourning that God gives us this beacon of hope:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” –Lamentations 3:21-26
In case you missed it, Jeremiah says that it is good for us to wait for the Lord. God is good to those who wait for him. When we are trusting and hoping in God’s ways and timing, waiting is a good and beneficial thing for us. All throughout the Bible we see God’s people waiting for his promise. Abraham waited twenty-five years for his promised son Isaac. Joseph was enslaved or imprisoned for fourteen years before God fulfilled his dream to lead his people. King David waited more than fifteen years between God anointing him and his taking the throne. It was four hundred years between the last prophecy in the Old Testament and the annunciation of Jesus in the New Testament. Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman.” Was waiting easy? No. Was it a part of God’s plan? Yes.
Advent negates all of Satan’s lies about God’s purpose in waiting. Waiting is not second best. Waiting does not prove that God is out of control. Waiting does not mean that you are missing out on God’s promises. When you hear these lies, remind yourself of this truth: waiting is a vital part of God’s good and sovereign plan for our lives and is part of his greater redemptive story.
So, this year, I celebrate this season of waiting, and I have hope. As Paul writes, “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25). I pray that you will find hope as you wait for the Lord today.