The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shown. Isaiah 9:2
With the holiday season fresh on our minds, I am reminded afresh of a fundamental truth: our society hates to wait. We avoid waiting by offering overnight shipping, drive-through banks, and one-hour photos. Restaurants take reservations, and Black Friday shopping is now available on Thanksgiving Day, for those who “just can’t wait."
However, there are certain kinds of waiting that are universally valued as essential and indispensable. No one complains about waiting for a garden vegetable to perfectly ripen, or for the climax of a film or novel to slowly build and develop. In these examples, waiting isn’t simply something to be endured, but is actually an experience in and of itself. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “for the greatest, most profound, tenderest things in the world, we must wait.”
As Christ followers, we are invited into a life of waiting.
When we read the Scriptures, we see this theme pop up time and time again. The people of God in the Old Testament learned how to wait. They waited for God’s deliverance from Egypt, they waited for their entrance into the Promised Land, and when they sinned and rebelled, they waited for God to one day restore them again.
God’s people also knew firsthand what it meant to be in need. They were, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us, a “people who walked in darkness.” For them, waiting, even when it is was good and right, was still a challenging experience. It was a faith-building experience. It was a season where they learned to trust in the goodness and love of God despite the darkness they saw in the world and in their own hearts.
Just because waiting is right, it doesn’t mean waiting is always easy.
The picture Isaiah paints for us is one of hopeful waiting. A waiting that shows our trust in the promises of God, even when we are surrounded by “deep darkness.” And as Christians, we see these promises perfectly fulfilled in Jesus, who is “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (John 1:9).
Since the earliest days of Christianity, Christians have prepared for Christmas by setting apart a four week season of intentional waiting. This Advent season, which literally means “coming,” is an invitation to hopeful waiting. We are hopeful because we live on “this side” of the cross- we know that the light of Christ will never fail to drive out all sin and darkness. Yet we still must learn to be people who wait, trusting God to continue his work of transformation in our world and in each of our lives.
No matter how dark the darkness may seem, as you wait with great hope, know afresh today that Christ is always greater, always stronger, and always outshines even the deepest darkness.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5
Prayer: Father, fill me today with your light and drive out any darkness that remains within me.
Related Readings: 2 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 22:5
Written by Tripp Prince
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