I hate waiting. That’s why I have Amazon Prime.
‘Tis the season of waiting. We wait in lines, for packages to arrive, for family, friends, parties, planes.
In the Bible, the word wait is often translated hope. They are intertwined. We must wait for the objects of our hope.
Hope feels deeper. We don’t just hope for that gift we want for Christmas. We hope for marriage, children, jobs, for needs satisfied.
Wrapped up in our hope is expectation. We have ideas of how we want our hopes realized. And when we are asking God to step into our hope and meet it, we put those expectations on Him.
What does it look like to hope in God? We place our fragile hopes in His hands, but too often the waiting is long, the expectations unmet. We fear disappointment. Sometimes it’s easier not to hope.
The Israelites knew a little about waiting. They waited in slavery, in exile, for the Promised Land, for a Messiah. In their waiting, they hoped. Their expectations grew. They longed for a leader, a savior, one who would protect them from their enemies and carry them to victory. For hundreds of years, they waited and hoped and expected rescue.
And then Jesus came, and He wasn’t anything they expected. But when I look at His birth, I’m reminded why God is worthy of our hope. In Christmas I see that:
God keeps His promises
Jesus fulfilled every prophecy about the Messiah. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 1:20
He has promised us so much – that He will never leave us, He will work all things for good, He will give us abundant life. We can hang our hope on His promises.
He meets our deepest needs
Four men lowered their paralyzed friend through a roof, but instead of healing his body, Jesus forgave his sins (and then healed him). The Israelites thought they needed a leader; God knew they needed a redeemer. We think we know what we want, but God wants to give us what we may not even know we need. Christ’s birth reminds me that not only does He knows my needs, He can also meet them.
His ways are not our ways
The Israelites probably would not have chosen an unwed, teenage mother or a poor carpenter to parent the ruler of the universe, or have made Him a Nazarene. So many of the chapters of my life I would not have written the way God did, but looking back, they are so good. We stumble the most when we hold too tightly to the ways we think God should answer our prayers. Like the Jewish people, we might miss His answers entirely.
He loves us more than life
One of my favorite songs this year is “Touch the Sky,” by Hillsong United. It says, “You traded heaven to have me again.” Christmas tells me to put my hope in Him because of this: He would do anything, give up everything, just to have me.
It might not happen now, or when we expect, but God is always working good on our behalf, meeting our deepest needs, keeping His promises out of his deep love for us. He is worthy of our hope.
So we wait quietly, attentively, continually, dependently. We put our hope not in an outcome, but in a Person.