We’ve all had to wait.
This Advent comes at the tail end of long months of waiting for so many of us.
As I assess my friends around me, many of us are waiting on more than merely the day when this virus no longer impacts everything.
I, like you (I suspect), have a deeper layer of waiting. Another waiting room that’s more personal… more costly and painful, that is running simultaneous to this cultural wait.
This isn’t my first wait. Eight years ago today, my body did what we thought (for over a decade) that it maybe never could. I birthed a child. I don’t hear a single birth story without remembering the long years of feeling on the outside of those stories — that they would never be mine.
Neither do I now enter a single Advent season without remembering that longest-awaited advent in my life.
Every one of us carries a story in our bodies, behind our eyes.
And in the one-dimensional way we humans operate… we’re often looking for the end of it, the last five minutes of the movie or those eight pages of the book where it all makes sense. But most of our life is lived in the middle of that story – most of our lives are lived in the tension of the advent wait.
Image: Cherish Andrea Photography
In the middle of this story in the picture (at which you’re looking for the last few minutes) was a girl who knew little of God’s pursuit of her but who needed her life to stop moving while her friends’ lives barreled ahead in order to believe that she was being pursued. In the middle of this story was a girl you would have pitied, but who God chose… to experience the silence of waiting and loss so she could begin to discern His tender whispers into the dark corners of her life.
Waiting, though gloriously purposed, is terribly uncomfortable for most of us.
And as I look back on my earlier wait, I see this question that emerged from a handful of friends: why keep hoping?
I might translate their question of me to: why voluntarily stay in this pain?
I heard it spoken over my marriage years ago, from a friend wondering if I should re-consider our covenant when things got especially tough. Another voiced it, curious about why I would still pray for God to enable me to conceive and carry a baby after we had adopted children. And another, feeding my impatience during our prolonged adoption process by suggesting quicker alternatives stateside.
Essentially: why stay a minute longer in this pain when there might be a way out?
One of the biggest challenges of walking through our infertility and marriage struggles was a world around me that wanted me to be “over it already.”
But as I consider both our Advent wait and the real-life wait that so many of us know (or have known), I can’t deny that we have formed a life-fight against the very place where hope — real hope — is birthed. (Read Romans 5:3-5)
In our exuberance to stop the waiting pains, we shortcut how God comes to those who wait. We shortcut what happens in the painful wait.
Today you’ll go to church or the grocery store or the soccer field and be surrounded by scores of people in the middle of their story, all desperate to reach the last five minutes. You’ll face scores of people who despise their wait for an advent. We’re a “breakthrough” culture at risk of missing the most significant breakthrough because our eyes haven’t yet been trained to see the power in the middle of the story.
It’s the middle that makes us.
I’ve known both sides of the pendulum swing — working fiercely to avoid pain or living under the despair of waiting. But I land here: there’s a slip of a girl with little notoriety who, when asked to carry the Savior of the world in her girlhood frame, immediately responded, “may everything you have said about me come true” (Luke 1:38).
Grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents passed to this girl-child a posture of waiting for the Messiah, such that when she heard the call to waiting, the expectancy of God rushed through her guttural response.
When pressed, one day, I want to have this response… to know, so personally, what the lilt of His voice sounds like, the soft, distinctive way He comes to people like me who sit and wait, the feel of His arms around me as I press into His chest… to say with my life:
“whatever you want of me, God.”
If you’ve been counseling your friends not to stay a moment longer inside their pain or their wait, irritated by their inability to get to the other side or to learn the lesson… If you’ve been mumble-coaching yourself to just get out of this, already — to stop struggling, to get to the other side of this and soon:
perhaps there’s a third way.
I promise it’s longer.
It may not be well received.
At times it might be excruciating.
And it’s full of life.
This is our wait for advent.
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. — Isaiah 40:31
Written by Sara Hagerty, author of Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet, copyright Sara Hagerty.
* * *
What are you waiting for? Has it been painfully long? Do you wish for a quick out? What if God has you in this wait on purpose? What if it’s for your benefit and His glory? Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you. ~ Devotionals Daily