Hopeful Waitingby Jamie Donne
This week marks the beginning of the season of Advent in the Church calendar. Advent is the season of remembering waiting for the birth of the Messiah and the waiting for His return. It’s a time of anticipation and celebration of the One who is faithful and true and always keeps his promises. Advent remembers the arrival of God stepping into the humanity that he created.
I love the season of Advent because it teaches us that God is always at work in the waiting. Where there is perceived silence, God is moving on our behalf to fulfill promises. Advent reminds us that waiting time is never wasted time. The Message paraphrases Romans 8 that creation is longing for freedom like the groans of childbirth. We are enlarged in the waiting. The longer we wait, the more joyful we become because we are anticipating the good fulfillment of promise.
We have the hope of the great promises of Scripture, and the promises that God has declared over us personally. God’s promises are always better than we can imagine. He’s kinder than we can think and his plans are good beyond measure. It’s easy with the promises of Christmas to get so caught up in the wonder of God’s big plan for all of history and creation that we forget it’s meant to impact our everyday, ordinary lives.
Hope for Every Season
The anticipation of this season is personified so well in the stories of Mary and Elizabeth. They are tangible expressions of those who are met in the midst of their every day lives. I love the way these women remind us that God is faithful in every season. Elizabeth is faithful in the midst of longing for a child, while Mary is a young bride-to-be brimming with anticipation. In very different seasons, God steps in to change their stories beyond what they could have imagined. You can picture both of these women in the middle of their household routines when an angel declares these hope-filled promises of children that would change the world.
God sees the whole picture and we can remember in this time that there is hope for every season. There is fresh grace and promises for every new season. I’m so thankful for the contrasting pictures of these women, one at the beginning of her life and one who is seasoned by years of faithful ministry alongside of the disappointment of barrenness. Our circumstances are never an obstacle for the Lord. In unlikely situations, God breaks through routine faithfulness to fulfill his promises. Zechariah was fulfilling his priestly commitment, both of them seen as righteous before God, blameless in all commands. They said “yes” to God over and over and were entrusted with a child that would prepare the way for the Messiah. God sees every yes in our hearts in the moments that seem so mundane and we can walk with great hope in those moments. We are building a history with God and Advent reminds us that God always bursts into those moments with hope.
The Bible says that when Jesus was born, shepherds were the first to receive the birth announcement from heaven. They were in the field watching over their flock by night. In the middle of their workplace, a heavenly host appeared. The shepherds responded quickly in hope and trust to see the sign of the baby in a manger.
The Message articulates the incarnation that Jesus took on flesh and “moved into the neighborhood.” He moves into our neighborhood, even into our workplaces. He turns the worlds of wives, priests, shepherds, brides, astrologers, and prophets into a supernatural place to hear the messages of God. There is hope for every realm of our lives. I can’t imagine how many nights the shepherds watched their flock in the fields before they were chosen as the first recipients of the news of the Messiah. God wants to show up in the middle of your workplace and infuse your world with hope in a fresh way. He sees every moment that we choose to work as working for the Lord and not for people (Col 3:23) and entrusts those who walk in righteousness. We need to remember the humanity of the stories of Scripture. Mary was probably doing the dishes, preparing a meal, or otherwise working in her everyday world when the angel interrupted her with history changing, hopeful promises.
This Advent, let’s choose hopeful anticipation that God will interrupt us in the workplace. As you’re pursuing faithfulness in the office and as parents, spouses, and neighbors, may we believe that there would be fulfillment of what’s been spoken to us from the Lord.