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It is so hard to wait. How humorous it is, then, that waiting seems to be what most of life consists of. Waiting for the semester to be over, waiting for that phone call, waiting in line - again, waiting for life to really begin. The happy bursts in life of beginnings and endings are sometimes drowned in the tedium of seemingly endless bouts of waiting.
The Bible is clear that this problem is not new or modern. Abraham and Sarah longed for a child, and everyone knows they had a little trouble waiting. Joseph waited for years in prison. David faced many long nights of waiting and wondering while Saul pursed him to kill him. The prophets and the whole nation of Israel longed and waited for the Messiah, their Deliverer.
Waiting is nothing new. Waiting for direction from God in your life, waiting for a spouse, waiting for a child, waiting for the weekend, for retirement, for….
When the endless cycle of things we wait for is listed out this way, there comes a compelling question – what is it, exactly, that we are waiting for? There is a real sense of, “this surely isn’t all there is to life,” or, “there must be something just ahead that will make everything right.” It seems that we humans are hard-wired to have that feeling within us, to have a deep-within longing – a longing for things to be made right and perfect and for things to be the way they are supposed to be.
The season leading up to Christmas Day is called advent – which means the coming (from Latin “to come”). The dictionary defines advent as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. We celebrate, together, with every follower of Christ all over the planet, the arrival of JESUS! Fully man, fully God – the Savior and Redeemer of the world.
Please read this beautiful passage about waiting...
Luke 2: 22- 36 NIV When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
In this passage from Luke we read that two precious, godly people had been waiting all their lives to see the Messiah. They had the scriptures that they read and heard in the temple, the promises of God to hold on to - yet they had not seen. Simeon had the revelation given of the Spirit inside his heart. Still, he had not seen – but he believed and waited and watched.
Then one day, he did see. All of those years of waiting and watching, and into the temple court comes this puzzled and exhausted looking young couple with their newborn baby. Imagine how Simeon felt. Here He was - the Messiah! Every promise kept, every hope fulfilled, every fear and doubt dashed.
Today, you and I find ourselves alive during another long season of waiting. It seems so long since Jesus has been here, and we begin to wonder if He ever will return. Yet there is one major difference during this period of waiting – Jesus really did come the first time! Try as the secularists might to erase this fact, the entire world calendar divides among Before Christ, and In the Year of Our Lord. Our faith is historically validated, and millions and millions of saints past and present can testify to Jesus’ reality.
How then should we wait?
1. We can wait with confidence – John 14: 1- 4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
-Jesus is coming back - not IF, but WHEN! We don’t have to wonder or be afraid that He has forgotten or changed His mind.
-Part of this is waiting in confidence is waiting with contentment. We can trust that as we walk with Him in obedience, we are right where the Lord wants us – this is His plan, and He is the one using us to build HIS Kingdom.
2 We can wait with purpose – Matthew 24:14 says, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
-Our waiting is not passive, but active. We take seriously the work of sharing the Good News with our neighbors and to the ends of the earth, and of making disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:18-20)
-As soon as the Gospel has been preached to every people group, Jesus will return. We must take our part in this seriously. Operation World is both a book and an app that gives insight into places all over the world that we can be praying and interceding for - this is a great place to start.
3 We can wait with eagerness – Philippians 3: 20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
-Just like every student counts down the days to the end of the semester, or like a bride and groom mark off every day on the calendar leading up to their wedding, we can eagerly look and point others to look for His coming. Keeping our eyes scanning for His coming keeps everything here in its proper perspective – He is in control. World events and politics do not make God anxious. Jesus will return in the fullness of time.
As you celebrate Christmas this year, may your home be filled with the joy and peace of Jesus Christ. May your heart be comforted and encouraged as we wait in the reality that He came once as a newborn, and He will come again as King.
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)