There are lots of different ways to wait. Scripture has over 162 verses that describe all sorts and manners of waiting. I suspect you are familiar with a good portion of the different kinds of waiting – after all, we all wait. In the military, the common experience was to “hurry up and wait.” We all wait. It is a common experience, and yet there are differences in waiting. There is a difference between expectant, on the edge of your seat, waiting; the patient “it will happen in its own good time and there is nothing I can do about it” waiting; and the waiting of dread, tedium, and despair. I think our, “Are we ever gonna’ get there waiting,” because a flight to Europe can take 8+ hours, would fall on deaf ears for our ancestors who traveled months on boats to reach these distant shores. But things change, the world has sped up. Our culture demands fast food, fast cars, and fast answers. We are accustomed to having a world of information at our fingertips with laptops and smart phones. We expect pills that will immediately take the pain away…yesterday. We are not accustomed to waiting, and we do not like it.
There has been a lot of waiting in my life. When growing up, waiting for my sisters to finish using the one bathroom we kids shared. In competitive swimming, there is a lot of waiting between events. While in the Navy, I thinking waiting was an acquired professional skill. Later in business, I excelled at waiting in airports all over the US and Europe. Waiting for tickets, waiting to board, and the ever-circular experience of waiting for the luggage carousel to eventually bring my luggage. Saints preserve us if we then have to wait in the lost-luggage line.
That is just life. It is sometimes marked by waiting for one thing or another. But through it all, I did learn patience. It comes in handy from time to time. I remember being impatient waiting to graduate from high school and college, so I could get into the “real world.” Later in life, I had years of formation with the Franciscans and in seminary. Patience was a blessing and a virtue.
In Isaiah 40:31, it says, “They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” The word used is קָוָה (qā·wā(h)) – which means “to hope” or “to wait.” The verse easily and accurately could have been translated as, “They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.” Hope and waiting don’t seem like they always go together. Hope seems so positive and uplifting, and waiting seems like something we must suffer through. But as Isaiah points out, hope and waiting go hand in hand. We can wait because we have hope. We wait on Jesus’ timing because our hope is in Him and Him alone. It is the very essence of Christmas. All that waiting for the Messiah. All that hoping. And then there it was. Christmas. God with us.
Who likes waiting? Yet I am filled with hope for all that tomorrow holds. Prayers answered, friendships savored, and miracles arriving. Like the One that arrived so long ago. A babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. Hope revealed. He was worth the wait.