A season of longing, of waiting, and it begs the question – what are you waiting for? For we are all waiting for something, someone, some change of circumstances or some relief or joy or hope or life to pass.
There are those waiting for test results, like we waited ten years ago as a family, and then heard not only once but twice the dreaded diagnosis of “cancer” for each of my parents (within two weeks).
I think of many friends who are waiting for a baby. Either by adoption or conception. And the waiting is agonizing, month after month of month of hope and disappointment – cycling through the heart till it feels it cannot bear it any longer. Hearing false words of comfort, meant to cheer but which feel empty and despairing. “Try this – there’s always next month! – children are so hard anyway …”
Women and men who are waiting for healing, for redemption, for forgiveness of ones who have wounded them, abused them, degraded them. Will it ever come this side of heaven? How long, O Lord?
There are Christians persecuted around the world, awaiting an end to the faith-induced suffering (while some “Christians” in America claim Jesus as the way to a suffering-free life).
Maybe you are waiting the interminable wait of grief, of longing, of mourning for loved ones who have passed away – a parent, a child, a best friend, a sibling, an aunt, uncle, cousin … and you, too, cry with the psalmist, “How long, O Lord?”
Some of you, like me, feel like you’re waiting for an impossible stage of parenting to be done. Waiting for tantrums to decrease, for kids to grow up (?), for this stage to pass like all those veteran parents promise it will, and too soon.
Some are waiting for a new job, for a move, for what’s next, for a house to sell, for a baby on the way, for school to finish. And there is joy mixed in some of this waiting.
Yet in all of it, we feel a longing. A yearning that this Advent season, a season of intense waiting and longing for … the One. The One who redeems the broken places we dare not speak of aloud, the sorrowful places we cannot bear to revisit, the weary-worn-out-hopeless places we fear may take us under, the suffering that feels too much or too mundane or too constant or just simply too long. He comes.
The wait is over when we wait on the Lord. For his coming is as sure as daylight after the longest night. The heart that waits on him is never disappointed. For seasons will pass, healing is slow yet sure, comfort is there for every grief, grace is there for each trial, and in all of the waiting there is the presence of Love with us. God with us. Emmanuel. With each Christmas carol, we too can rejoice (even in our waiting) with Zechariah in Luke 1:68, 78-79 –
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people … because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.