In these final days leading up to Christmas, I spent a several hours in a hospital waiting room. It wasn’t the same maternity ward Joseph was searching for, dashing all over Bethlehem in the middle of the night with Mary in tow. Though my dad used to spend a lot of time in a waiting room a la seven kids, a waiting room was where he, my older sister Colleen and I were camped this week as we waited for my mom in surgery. My seventy-something mother, bless her soul, had a three hour rotator cuff surgery. Get this: she injured her shoulder at physical therapy. She’ll be going back to physical therapy for physical therapy on the shoulder she injured at physical therapy! You been in a waiting room lately?
Sitting in the waiting room with my dad and older sister reminded me of my past few years. It feels like I’ve been in a waiting room for a long time. I’m not alone on this. Over the past few years, I’ve met with many friends and acquaintances who have been waiting, waiting for all kinds of breakthroughs and change. With as much joy and celebration that Christmas brings, the light of Christ’s coming at Christmas is tinged with the keen awareness that many people I know have suffered with the very real pain this life dishes out by the ambulance-load.
This is why I love Christmas. Christmas is all about the light of God overcoming the darkness of this world. Christmas is all about hope. The anticipation of a Gift undeserved. The arrival of not only presents, but Presence. The celebration of the end of waiting. God with us. In the flesh. Christmas is finally here!
I don’t know about you, but this is the hope so many people long for. I could go through a long list of names of friends and family who I know need hope.
- Friends who have literally lost just about everything they’ve owned in the economic collapse. Waiting for new jobs, new opportunities, new sources of income.
- Friends who have adopted a boy from another country only to have the adoption go completely sideways filling their home with pain and conflict. Waiting and wondering, “God, I thought you were in this? Is this what we really signed up for?”
- Other friends suffering from the death of a child and walking through the dark corridors of grief. Waiting for relief.
Wow, sounds pretty dark I know. But I’m really looking forward to Christmas as I hope my friends are. Christmas keeps us leaning forward. Leaning forward in life. Waiting. Anticipating an arrival. I recently read a short Advent reflection (Advent means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’). Advent is all about the coming and arrival of hope offered by a Person. I hope you’re encouraged by the words below…
Advent is a time of hope; the spirit of eager anticipation pervades the senses. Even in the refuge of your own home, the season is inescapable as carolers dismiss the social inhibitions that dominate the other eleven months of the year. but when tragedy, depression, or loneliness steals your joy, you can almost resent the lope that others have. When we think our hope unfulfilled, we adjust our expectations. We take on new causes, reconsider our optimism, or sometimes become leery of new endeavors. We can even become angry with God, feeling desolate or abandoned. But even if we lose our hope in God, he will never give up on us. God doesn’t share our limited perspective, and that is one of the reasons that the hope of Advent isn’t dependent on how we are feeling. It can be comforting to rely on the who gives us hope, even when the light of that hope doesn’t seem to penetrate our temporary darkness.
As I’ve waited a lot the past few years for dreams, goals, plans and desires to come to fruition, I’ve learned a lot about God’s waiting room. Namely, God is most interested in me knowing him closer as a loving Father who really cares about everything going on in my heart and mind. Even if some of my wildest dreams never happen, just as I waited with my dad and sister for my mom to come out of surgery, I know I’m not waiting alone. I’m learning, as I wait, that His presence is enough. God is enough.
God is with me. God is with you. Immanuel…God with us.
Questions: Do you find yourself in a waiting room? What dreams, hopes, or expectations are you waiting to be fulfilled? What does Christmas teach you about hope in the midst of waiting? What are you waiting for?
I’d love your thoughts and comments.