Right now we are in the midst of, for many, the busiest and not most wonderful time of the year: that four-weeks-and-change whirlwind between Thanksgiving and Christmas. As we anticipate and wait for Christmas to arrive, many times we can focus none too merrily on how long our to-do lists are, or what we are waiting for in other areas of our lives. However, even in the midst of this Advent season when we wait for Christmas, in spite of any stress we may feel there is a peace to be found!
We are not alone in learning how to wait. The Bible is full of stories of how people have waited on the Lord. Abraham and Sarah waited for Isaac. Job waited for restoration. The Israelites waited for freedom from slavery, and then waited again to go into Canaan. All of the prophets in the Old Testament longed for a coming Messiah, trusting in God’s promises. On Jesus’s instruction, the disciples waited in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit to come. Even Jesus waited on his Father’s perfect timing.
Despite all these examples, showing patience and being joyful about waiting remains difficult! I, for one, am often tempted to laugh (like Sarah), doubt (like Peter), and assume I can usurp God’s plan for my own (like Abraham).
I love that Paul lists “joy, peace, patience” next to each other when he lists the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. All nine fruit grows in tandem when the Spirit dwells inside us, but it’s particularly sweet to learn how to wait with joy, peace, and patience.
We’ve probably all heard that ‘joy’ is not merely happiness, but a deeper feeling of content down in our bones. (This is true.) But how many times do we put peace and patience together? They are natural compatriots, but do we combine them? Many times in order to be patient we fill our life with activity to help us forget about whatever it is we need to be patient about! That’s not peace or patience… that’s exhausting! Many times it can lead to less joy, not more. But when we seek to grow in peace and patience together, we can also learn to be still and rest in God’s character and His promises. What beauty! And what a sweet truth to hear that we can have peace during the perpetually busy, often peace-less time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This Advent season, we may not be waiting for Jesus to come like ancient Israel did, but we are waiting nonetheless – on his return, on our sanctification, on life to slow down a little bit. Rather than being impatient, grouchy, or premature, let’s look to how David waited in Psalm 33:
The best and most comforting truth we can hold close to us as we wait is that God is our help and our shield: He didn’t just look down from heaven on all mankind (Psalm 33:13), but He came and dwelt among us (John 1:14) to deliver us from death (Psalm 33:19). Our wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace has alleviated any overwhelming urge to worry or fear. And that is cause for our weary world to rejoice!