This post comes from Phil Ellis.
Nearly two weeks ago, I published a devotion about the heaviness of earthly realities, how Jesus experienced those realities, and how we desire for those realities to be dealt with, once and for all (see here).
Today, I’m back with another devotion about the weightiness of waiting, this time focusing on how waiting has a certain gravitas, something to be taken seriously, noticed, and valued.
In our culture, waiting is not something we encourage. It’s more often seen as a nuisance, a waste of time, an inconvenience. Our society promises (and often delivers) a “right now” outcome for what we want—fast food, scan-and-go checkout lanes, Amazon Prime two-day delivery. Waiting is not something to be noticed, valued, or learned from.
Throughout history, God’s people have experienced prolonged periods of waiting, and it seems that they too have struggled with the weight of waiting because these times led them to complain, rebel, and accuse God of abandonment. Jesus’ closest disciples were unable to bear the weight of waiting with Jesus in the garden. We are not alone in our struggle with the weight of waiting.
As we have noted, Advent is a time of waiting. We celebrate the coming of the Christ Child and we look forward to His return. As I have heard it summarized, “He has come and is coming. One day, He will come again.” As we pray Come Lord Jesus, Come, how do we bear the weight of waiting for His return? What’s the value in this prolonged waiting, including this special season of the church calendar?
I find great hope in the writings of Marc Cortez, professor at Wheaton College, who suggests that “maybe a little waiting is a good thing.” Allow me to summarize five benefits of waiting that he mentions in a piece he wrote about ‘forced waiting:’ (link)
- Waiting reminds us that we are not the center of the universe. That doesn’t make our plans unimportant, but it does put them in perspective.
- Waiting reminds us that God is in control. At the very least, waiting forces us to realize that we are not in control.
- Waiting reminds us that life is a gift. I can choose to grumble and gripe about the loss of my precious time, or I can notice how those very moments are a gift God gave me for the sake of his glory.
- Waiting reminds us that the present matters. Sometimes waiting frustrates us because we’re too future-oriented, always focused on what comes next. But what about now? Next is in God’s hands
- Waiting reminds us that the future is bigger than we think. Waiting can remind us that this life is part of something much larger, and in the light of eternity, all our waiting becomes less onerous.
Waiting may be something we chafe at, but accepting, and even embracing, the wait may be one of the healthiest things we can do. While we might see some waiting as we a waste, God seems to have plans for our times of waiting, plans to help us grow. As Henri Nouwen noted, “Waiting is a period of learning. The longer we wait, the more we hear about him for whom we are waiting.” And I would add, “the more we learn about ourselves.”
In addition to the things noted by Marc Cortez, what is God teaching you about the value of waiting?