Advent as Reality Check: Learning to Wait

The thirty-minute sitcom has played havoc with my perseverance. Growing up as a child on a media diet of seeing wrongs righted and relationships healed in 30 minutes flat gave me a false sense of how the world works. Advent cures that mindset.

At Advent I sit, waiting with Israel under Roman rule. I look for the Messiah. I don’t know the time of His coming. Will I recognize him?

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

At Advent I fix my eyes on the coming Christ.

O come, Thou Bright and Morning Star,
And bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
And turn our darkness into light.

But, in this moment, during this Advent, I must sit in the imperfect, waiting. I mourn with recent or soon-to-be widows who grapple with unwanted solitude. I watch nervously to learn the outcome of family and friends’ cancer or dementia diagnoses. I live keenly aware of the simultaneous joy and acute need of refugee friends who have little. I wait in awareness of displaced people around the globe. I walk down the streets of a divided country. I’m impatient for solutions and healing.

I want to rush to fix the broken, change minds and policies, but my impact is small.

O come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid all our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.

What do you wait for? Perhaps you and I need to re-examine what it means to wait.

Scriptures on waiting have stimulated my thinking. These are some of my discoveries mined from the Word:

  • Waiting does not mean inaction.  It encompasses continuing forward while refusing to resort to ungodly tactics to achieve God’s goals. David waited on God timing for him to ascend to the throne. He refused to remove Saul from power by killing him by his own hand, or by the hands of his men (1Sam. 24:6; 26:9-11).
  • Instead of inaction, waiting often entails suffering, hard work, service with hope, persistence with love in the face of discouragement. (Gal. 6:9) Waiting leaves timing and results in God’s hands.
  • God renews the strength of those who wait with hope (Isaiah 40:28-31). We base our hope in waiting on God’s character, strength, power and justice, not our own character or on the strength and power and justice of our nation. We will never be disappointed because God will prevail (Psalm 13:5-6Isaiah 40:18; 64:4).
  • Whatever we wait for, we ultimately wait for the Day of the Lord when the Prince of Peace will reign.

Think again about the things you wait for during Advent. Let’s give up our sitcom mentality and wait with perseverance for our Lord Jesus.

Image by Anja from Pixabay.

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.

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