Everyone is waiting for something or someone.
Some of us are waiting for a diagnosis, while others are waiting for the relationship they’ve always dreamed of. Some of us are waiting for the dust to finally settle in our family, or for a breakthrough to happen in our career, or even to be rescued from a situation we had no part in creating.
Here’s the good news this Advent: No matter what you are waiting on God has a message of hope for you.
Advent simply means arrival. In the case of Christmas we celebrate the arrival of Jesus, the greatest gift ever given to the world. For on a chaotic night in the little town of Bethlehem a miracle happened. Down the slope of a hill, in a cave carved out by the wind and rain, a place where animals took shelter in the storm. A Savior was born who would take away the sins of the world.
But Jesus didn’t arrive without a wait. While you and I simply turn the page, moving effortlessly from the end of the Old Testament promises to the opening of Matthew’s Gospel, it wasn’t quite that easy. Four hundred years of silence spanned the gap between the final prophecies spoken in Malachi (the last Old Testament book) and the birth of Christ.
Imagine four hundred years without any recorded word from God—no voice, no prophet, nothing. Imagine the agony of waiting, and the struggle to keep faith in the promises given long before. You can almost hear the questions being passed from one generation to the next. Had God vanished? Was He ever really there? Was faith in Him just a waste?
Suddenly, when the time was right, Bethlehem’s fields lit up like noonday as angels proclaimed, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men on whom his favor rests.
The wait was over. The silence was broken. Heaven unleashed thunderous applause. And in a feeding trough, Jesus was born. God in human flesh! The Son of God had become the Son of Man. Emmanuel—God with us!
Christmas is a story of longing fulfilled. That’s why it gives us reason to celebrate the goodness and nearness of God in the midst of our waiting seasons. As we struggle with our own sense of silence, and as we strain to see God at work in our convoluted lives, Christmas urges us on by reminding us that God will come through on His promises.
Sadly, the frenzy we call the holiday season is a mad dash of tinsel and toys, driven more by consumerism than anything else. Ironically, the season that marks the arrival of the Prince of Peace has somehow begun to leave us feeling frantic, stressed, alone and peace-less. If we’re not careful, the season can create a perfect storm of anxiety that will cause us to miss God’s voice.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. If we ask Him, God will give us the grace to slow the pace. And He will help us remember how loved we are and how trustworthy He is. If we wait expectantly for Him, God will lift our eyes and draw near to us. He will remind us that waiting is not wasting when we are waiting on His plans to unfold. He will anchor our hearts in the bedrock of His Faithfulness.
My prayer is that this Advent you will be encouraged and fortify your faith so, ultimately, hope may bloom again.
I encourage you to carve out a few moments daily to embrace God’s faithfulness through reflection, worship, and prayer. As you do, there’s a good chance something new will be born in your heart…and when Christmas day arrives you will be able to truly celebrate what God has done and what He promises to do.
What are you waiting for?