Waiting in Hope
The waiting of Advent gives us the opportunity to prepare our hearts – to open them to be a living dwelling place for the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Immanuel – God with us. Yet, the prospect of waiting can be a painful one. Waiting for healing; for good news; for an end to the ache in an empty and broken heart; for restoration and reconciliation in a tense and broken relationship – these times of yearning are filled with pain.
God’s chosen people knew something about waiting. Hundreds of years had passed since God had spoken his promise of a coming King and Messiah that would lead the bruised and battered nation, Israel, out of the pain of captivity. “The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” “The days are coming when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and will do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness.” Jeremiah 33:14; 23:5-6
Israel had fallen captive to one empire after another. God’s promise was like a healing balm to their pain of enslavement. But so many years had passed, generations had come and gone. From the biblical accounts, we’re told of only a handful of those who we find waiting expectantly for God to fulfill his promise.
In our world today, the prospect of waiting is one met with impatience. Waiting isn’t tolerated in a world moving at breakneck speed, a world of instant everything. This kind of waiting is filled with an emptiness and futility. The waiting few that we find aren’t waiting in this empty state of nothingness. Rather, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna waited actively, alert, prepared and hopeful. Their expectant waiting took place at a time when God had appeared to be silent to his beloved nation.
How is it possible for them to have waited in expectation? Their waiting was based upon the knowledge that throughout their history God was always faithful to keep his promises. So, they waited with confident hope knowing that the God who promised freedom from captivity through a Messiah King would be true to his word. There is something intrinsically different in waiting for a promise to be fulfilled by someone who has always faithfully kept their promises. A confidence exists, a surety that what was promised simply will be.
Like these few who knew of God’s faithfulness, not just as part of a nation but personally, I too wait in eager expectation and hope, in the God who in his perfect love and holy righteousness is absolutely trustworthy to keep his Word. He is a God of hope, longing to dwell, not in some beastly stable ridden with the wintry night air, but in the hearts of those he lovingly created in His own image.
Throw open the doors of your heart. Let him dwell there. Immanuel – God with us. God in us. All the light and warmth of the divine will free your captive, hurting heart. May he dwell in you today.