By: Rob Genin
Waiting. There are few things which seem to be universally disliked, but waiting is one of them. Whether you are thumbing disinterestedly through magazines in a doctor’s office or anxiously waiting for a shipment to arrive so you can serve a customer, we can all relate to wanting things to happen faster. As a child, I remember Christmas felt like it would never come – the days felt like they moved slower as I stared at the presents under the tree and thought about Christmas breakfast with my family. Yet all of the waiting, whether it is bored, tense, excited or otherwise, is a tool from God to help us. God even built it into the fabric of history. Consider Galatians 4:4-5:
But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.
Christmas happened when “the fullness of time” came. There was an appropriateness to the timing of God in sending his son. When you consider the hundreds of years that Israel had languished in bondage to other nations, or the thousands of years from the fall of Adam and Eve, surely many grew weary under the burden of waiting for good news. But there was a purpose in it. I want to consider three things that were accomplished by the waiting for Jesus and the first Christmas.
1) Patience. It is the most obvious thing, but waiting for a long time develops patience. Hardly anything in our culture seems to encourage patience, and it is one of the most needed virtues today. Patience is a type of strength, the ability to hold unfulfilled desires without complaint. God taught the Israelites patience through forty years in the wilderness, and all of humanity through the millennia waiting for Jesus.
2) Longing. As we wait, the desire for the end of waiting and the fulfillment of whatever we are waiting for grows. Galatians 4:5 says we were waiting for redemption, “that we might receive adoption as sons.” The long years of waiting, experiencing injustice at the hands of other nations, was a tool to make Israel desire to be led and loved by God. Our waiting and reflection on this present world can stir up the same.
3) New Priorities. One of the unexpected gifts which waiting gives us is time to think. As we think about our situation, we can easily dwell on unhelpful things, like how tired of waiting we are. However, we can also begin to think about what really matters, and to ask ourselves if we have prioritized the important. In a world that is a whirl of sound and color, moments to reflect on the profound blessings of God are truly a gift. It is so easy to get distracted and busy and to lose the real importance of Christmas amid all the cards and parties and food and presents and obligations. A little waiting to give us time to think about God is a priority checking privilege.
So, as we labor at work and go to the Christmas parties during Advent, let’s remember and encourage one another that there is nothing better that God can give us than Himself – and that is what He gave at Christmas. Immanuel. God with us.