“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” ~Psalm 24:17
The countdown questions usually begin as soon as I clear the plates after our Thanksgiving meal. “Mom, how many days until Christmas?”
I remember well this uncontainable excitement. I was the same as a child at Christmastime. My mom was a genius at keeping our hands and minds busy in the weeks leading up to December 25. We strung popcorn and looped construction paper strips into paper chains to decorate the house. We cut and fastened together pine boughs, making a garland to drape over the railings of our deck. We cross-stitched and hot-glued ornaments as gifts for grandparents. Even with all this activity, I slept fitfully from anticipation during the week leading up to Christmas.
I think of how much harder it must be for my kids to wait for Christmas. The stores showcase trees and tinsel before Halloween is even past. Thanksgiving has become a one-stoplight town on the road to Christmas: blink, and you’ll miss it. My children are growing up in an age when they can immediately see and evaluate each picture taken of them, get books and toys delivered to our house in two days, and stream any show they wish with the touch of a button. How can I teach them to wait well when waiting more than a second brings discomfort?
The people of Israel knew a lot about waiting. They waited for a deliverer from captivity in Egypt. They wandered in the desert for forty years, waiting for entrance to the promised land. They waited for a Messiah. Nearly one thousand years before Jesus’ incarnation, David wrote about him in the Psalms (Psalms 2:6-9, 89, 110 ESV). Probably the most well-known prophecies of the Messiah are found in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah boasts over twenty messianic prophecies pointing to Jesus, and it was written over six hundred years before his birth. Generations of Israelites died before seeing these predictions come to life through Jesus, yet the people of Israel clung to the hope of a Savior in the wait.
Waiting is hard. In the absence of action, our minds fill with anxious thoughts. We play out all the possible scenarios in our mind. We become frustrated, impatient, or use distractions to numb our uncomfortable feelings. In seasons of waiting, what do you do? Are you filled with anxious thoughts? Do you seek the counsel of friends or turn to God first?
When we wait by our own power, we often don’t wait well. Thankfully, God sent us the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit “the helper” in John 14:16 (ESV). With the Spirit’s help, we can access patience, one of the fruits of the spirit. When we choose the Spirit’s guidance, we are choosing to trust in God believing he is our help, whether we are waiting for a day or a decade.
Lord, we know that we can come to you with all our worries and troubles. We are humbled and honored that you care for our concerns. Help us to be people who wait well, who trust your plans for us, and are patient to see the fruits of the waiting times. Give us the strength to put our hope in you and not in our ways. Amen.
Scriptures for Reflection
Therefore, return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually. (Hosea 12:6 NIV)
Lead me in your truth and teach me, For you are the God of my salvation; For you I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:5 NIV)
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. (James 5:7-8 NIV)
Reach for More
We all endure seasons of waiting in our lives. We can teach ourselves to wait well in the majors by practicing in minor times of waiting. When you are in line at the store, open the Bible app on your phone instead of social media. Write down Scriptures you would like to memorize, and keep them in your car for when you are waiting in the school pick-up line or the bank. Document these moments of waiting well, and share them with us on social media using the hashtag #tgtreachformore.
When it comes to waiting, don’t go it alone. Utilize the helper, and turn to God in trust and obedience when life brings you a season of waiting. He will never leave your side, no matter how long the wait.
Lindsay Hufford is a writer, slow marathoner, home educator and mediocre knitter. Her favorite things include books, kombucha, kitchen dancing, natural wellness, Jesus, and nachos. She spends days with her handsome hubby, three adorable kids, a flock of hens, a runaway peahen, wandering barn cat, and rescue dog. Lindsay shares ways to live simply and love extravagantly at www.searchforthesimple.com.
Photograph © Clem Onojeghuo, used with permission