Have you ever noticed that Christmas is all about waiting? I know things like presents, family, festivities, and the birth of Jesus generally come to mind when we think of Christmas. However, waiting is a much more accurate theme.
We wait for Christmas in many little ways. Children wait all year to open the presents under the tree. Adults wait all year to see what deals they can score on Black Friday. Families eagerly await the opportunity to meet up with loved ones who live across the country. All of these pale in comparison to the waiting that occurred before the first Christmas. The people of God were waiting for the Messiah—their promised deliverer.
They had been waiting for generations. When Moses delivered God’s people out of slavery in Egypt, Moses wasn’t the real deliverer for whom they waited. When Joshua led God’s people into the Promised Land, he wasn’t the real leader for whom they longed. When David defeated Goliath, his triumph wasn’t the real victory that they needed. Then, finally, Jesus was born! He was the long-awaited deliverer, leader, and victor.
Now, as we wait for the festivities that we’ll take part in as we commemorate Jesus’ birth, many of us are waiting for things that seem unrelated to Christmas. I remember one Christmas just a few years ago when my husband and I felt downcast because we’d been diagnosed with unexplained infertility. We were waiting for so many things, the most significant of which was a child. We’re overjoyed that we now celebrate Christmas with children, but we’re waiting again. One thing we wait for is financial breakthrough so we can make progress towards our goal of debt-free living.
Your life is likely quite different from mine, but chances are that you’re waiting, too. Some of you are struggling with illness, waiting to be healed. Some of you are waiting to see if the divisions in your marriage can be mended or if they will lead to divorce. Some of you are waiting for an employer to finally hire you so you’ll have a job.
Though these things may not seem to have anything to do with Christmas, they do. Ultimately, these longings are surrogates for our greatest desire. We long for a time when there will be no disease, money won’t be needed, and we’ll be in right relationships with one another. Yes, right now we wait for jobs, healing, and reconciliation, but we’re really waiting for Jesus.
We’re currently commemorating Advent, a time of reflection and preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The word Advent comes from Latin and means “coming.” Though we think about the nativity (the birth of Jesus) during Advent and at Christmas, these are also times for us to think about the Second Coming. When Jesus comes again, all of our waiting and longing will be over!
Meanwhile, though, we are waiting. Waiting is hard, but I want to remind us that God meets with us and changes us in the waiting. We sang the song “Take Courage” in church a few weeks ago and it really emphasized this point.
The Bible says many things about waiting. Let’s meditate on these truths as we try to wait well.
“I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” Lamentations 3:24-26
“…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.” James 5:7
I pray we each find Him in the waiting today. In the comments section below, please share any additional Bible verses that you find helpful as you wait.
I pray you feel the presence and joy of the Lord this Christmas!