No one likes to wait. In this instantaneous society, we live off microwavable food, 5G data, and same-day delivery. Businesses are continually coming up with solutions to our longer-term “problems” of waiting: dating apps so we don’t have to wait the meet the right partner or new mortgage options so we don’t have to save before buying a home. But in the shuffle, we’ve lost something beautiful in the hard — painful but productive — seasons of waiting.
Advent is a call to such waiting. The four weeks before Christmas are a time to stop and remember the much longer, four millennium season of waiting for the Messiah. For some reason, during those long years between Adam and Eve’s departure from Eden and Christ’s birth, God refused to allow His people to stop anticipating. Page after page of the Old Testament is filled with intricate instructions for temples, candles, curtains, spices, sacrifices, and a whole series of festivals – all to remind Israel that they were still waiting. Every detail of the Old Covenant law, from the priestly garments to the cleansing of a leper, were intended to be constant reminders that there was something more, something greater to be found in the coming Messiah. Advent remembers those long years of anticipation, helping us learn to savor the incarnation by journeying with our Old Testament counterparts through the stages of promise, anticipation, hope, and finally the realization that the baby in Bethlehem is our long-awaited King.
On my bulletin board hanging above my desk, I have a small scrap of lined paper with the words “waiting is a gift when treasuring Christ is your goal” scrawled on it. I’d written the note over a year ago, after a sermon on the gift of suffering as a means to treasure Christ. During that sermon, it struck me that waiting can indeed be a trial, for it requires the same stamina of faith to believe God’s goodness and grasp His promises when circumstances show no sign of changing.
This advent season, my prayer is that I embrace waiting — both my own season of waiting on God as well as the discipline of advent that mirrors it. I pray my waiting would not be wasted, but rather be the means of drawing nearer to Christ. And I pray that as I reflect on advent, the hope of the incarnation would fill my soul as never before, leaving me with stronger faith in a God who is able.