It seems recently everyone I speak to is waiting on God for something.
One person is waiting for a desperate prayer request to be answered.
One person is waiting for career guidance as they discern God’s will for his life.
Another person is waiting for that right man to come into her life so they can get married and start a family.
Tis the season!
What I mean by that glib comment is it’s Advent season. The word Advent literally means “coming” or “arrival” and it refers to the coming or the arrival of the Messiah Jesus Christ. The surprising thing to remember is that by the arrival of the first Advent, waiting had been a major part of the experience because it had been over 400 years since a word, or a “coming” and “arrival” of God had appeared to the Jewish people! Consequently, one could say the Advent season embodies waiting.
As for me and I’m sure my friends mentioned above, there’s one problem – I despise waiting!
I despise waiting in line at the store.
I despise waiting at traffic lights.
I even despise waiting for my popcorn to pop in the microwave (How spoiled are we?).
I could go on, but you get the point. We are a culture that expects things instantaneously. Technology has spoiled us and we take that expectation into relationships, even our relationship with God.
In all honestly, there are times I don’t even like waiting on God! That is a significant problem for two reasons: Waiting as I just described it is foreign to the Scriptures; and waiting is not just part of Advent season, but it’s an essential part of the life of faith!
First, a cursory look at what the Scriptures say about waiting reveals it’s not like the waiting we commonly think of. If I wait for something today, I think of it as a passive experience, just killing time, and usually accompanied with bellyaching and whining at some point too.
But according to the Scriptures this type of “waiting” is not waiting; that’s impatience and immaturity!
On the other hand, the Scriptures teach that while waiting, we should wait:
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalms 5:3 (NIV)
“But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:25 (HCSB)
“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)
“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Isaiah 26:8 (NIV)
Renewing our Strength
“Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
Scripture teaches that waiting is not a passive activity we endure, or a waste of time. Waiting is, in the words of theologian Walter Grundmann, a “burning expectation” in which we exhibit all the characteristics above, and more! In his new Advent book Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope, Louie Giglio says while we are waiting, God is with us, and working; and I would add so are we as we become more expectant, more patient, acknowledge how blessed we are, stay faithful, and gain needed strength through the waiting.
That doesn’t sound like a passive “just-killing-time experience” to me.
Secondly, Scripture teaches that ultimately this biblical waiting, described as a “burning expectation” is not only a part of Advent, but also the entire Christian experience. Read this passage in Hebrews 9:28:
“. . . so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.” (NLT)
That phrase “eagerly waiting” is a rich compound word that literally means “to welcome or receive from out of” with the emphasis being, based on Paul’s usage too, that we welcome Jesus’ coming and all that it brings – the glorious transformation of our lives – as we also come “from out of “ the world. In other words, we longingly look for and welcome Christ while turning from all else.
Finally, this is not just a part of the Christian experience, but creation itself is waiting! Notice the same word is used in Romans 8:19:
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” (NIV)
So during this Advent season, will you commit to the following:
- Celebrating the “coming” and “arrival” of the Messiah;
- Recognize that waiting is a natural part of Advent;
- Exhibit the biblical definition of waiting as an active experience, a “burning expectation” inherent with all the above characteristics and more;
- And sincerely grasp that waiting is not to be despised but embraced as a time of growth and intimacy with God.
So if you’re waiting on God for something, wait with an active “burning expectation”. It shows your dependence upon him, and your expectant eagerness to see his “coming” and “arrival”.
Just like at the first Advent!