Advent is a season of waiting. Expecting. It’s a time of looking forward with hope, even when a complete understanding of every circumstance is impossible. Advent is a season of longing for that which has been promised.
If you stop and think about it, the first “Advent” went on for thousands of years. From the Lord’s first hopeful mention to Adam and Eve of a promised Redeemer (Genesis 3:15), through all of Isaiah’s prophecies and well beyond, everyone waited for the Messiah to come. I think it’s safe to assume that few people actually expected Christ to come during their own lifetime, however, and that almost no one expected Christ’s first coming in the precise way that “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). It was simply too much to comprehend. Even now we marvel at all of the stunning details.
But Christ came. Indeed He came. Angels had paved the way for Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph to understand. Simeon knew the moment He saw Jesus. So did John the Baptist. And, in time, the first Christmas changed everything.
This morning just before 10:00 in Columbus, an Ohio State University student was shot dead by police after he purposefully drove his car into several pedestrians, and then attacked and stabbed multiple others with a butcher knife. Sadly, you and I are becoming almost immune to such reports.
But didn’t that angel who spoke to those frightened Bethlehem shepherds promise PEACE? Yes. Absolutely, yes. In fact the goal of both creation and redemption is the glory of God. Our Lord desires to be known and praised for His glory. And those who will adore our great God for eternity will be those who are filled with His peace. Even peace on earth. We can think of Christ’s kingdom as a new and peace-filled humanity. Paradise restored!
But we’re not there yet. At least not entirely. And I know that I didn’t even need to tell you that. Could Tom Petty have been a timeless theologian? “The waiting is the hardest part” (1981). At least on that point, Petty was spot on.
A much better source of lyrical inspiration for us, God’s songbook (Psalm 130:5-6), declares: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.” The psalmist was comparing waiting expectantly on God to the night guards of a city who watched the clock as they anticipated the coming dawn – which would mean their release from duty. The dawn’s coming was a sure thing, but it was not to be quite yet.
You and I are still caught in the not quite yet. We need Jesus to calm our anxious souls, while we wait on Him to do that which is immeasurably better than what we would do “to fix things” if left to our own devices.
Susannah Spurgeon, the wife of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, counseled her own restless heart with these words: “The Lord has strewn the pages of God’s Word with blessedness to those who wait for Him. And remember, His slightest Word stands fast and sure; it can never fail you. So, my soul, see that you have a promise underneath thee, for then your waiting will be a resting and a firm foothold, for your hope will give you confidence in Him who has said, ‘They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me.’”
So wait we must, but not without marvelous hope.