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It was Thanksgiving day and a family member and I were chit chatting. “When are you going to put up your Christmas tree?” she asked. Given we were traveling out of state, I wasn’t sure, but I was most eager to get a tree up and decorated upon returning home from Thanksgiving.
The tree is still not up, and I’m still most eager to get it done.
I know a handful of families who wait until we are in the thick of Advent to begin decorating their homes. It’s their effort to enter into this waiting we are called to during Advent. One family I know sets up a Christmas tree early in the Advent season, only to wait until Christmas Eve to turn on the lights. For them it symbolizes waiting for the light of Christ to enter the world. Their kids beg and wait and beg and wait to turn on the lights. I can just imagine the excited squeals coming from that home when the parents finally announce the long wait is over and it’s time to light the tree.
We all spend time waiting at some point in our lives: in line at the grocery store, for an app to download on our phone, for that first cup of coffee to brew in the morning. We wait for the baby to fall asleep or for the teenager to arrive home safely. These are short waiting periods, and we know the wait will end relatively quickly.
But then there are other periods of waiting that test our patience and perseverance. Waiting with a loved one while she battles cancer. Waiting and longing as a single person to find your future spouse. Waiting to land that job in order to provide for your family’s needs. Waiting as you journey through difficulties in your marriage or with an adult child struggling with an addiction. We wait … and we wait … and we wait some more. And nothing seems to happen. Drained, we find ourselves sitting on the edge of hopelessness.
What if in these times when we are longing and waiting for God to do something, we reframe our language? Can we recognize there is a difference between waiting for God to do something, versus waiting with God as he does something right here, right now, in the midst of our struggle?
Chapter 43 of the Prophet Isaiah focuses on the promises of God’s redemption and restoration. In Isaiah 43:19 (NAB), the Lord says:
See, I am doing something new!
Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
In the wilderness I make a way.
In the wasteland, rivers.
Even as we wait, God is creating, redeeming, sanctifying, and revealing Himself right here, right now. Can you see He is doing something new?
Question to ponder: Have you asked God to do something in your life? Are you still waiting? While you wait, ponder how God is doing something new within you. Sit with the promise of Isaiah 43:19 this week.
As we light that first candle of Hope in the Advent wreath, let us trust and hope as we wait with God and His promise to do something new within us.
May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may overflow with hope. Today, tomorrow, and every day.
Enjoy Hope For Everyone, a song from Matt Maher’s new album, The Advent of Christmas.