Advent, Week 1: Hope

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.
–Psalm 130

This Advent season, we are anxiously waiting for our third baby, Ruthie, who is due in mid-January. I’m thinking of Mary and how our stories–though very different–align in many ways this year: our bellies swollen and growing, our families far away, our babies surprising but so welcome.

With both Ian and Leo, I was eventually induced because those boys were content to make us wait. Waiting was torture. Admittedly, I’m one of those strange women who really enjoys being pregnant, but I hate the approach (and passing) of a due date; I don’t like surprises. 

As I marked an X through each box on the calendar, I could think of almost nothing else. I watched for a sign: every twinge, cramp, and movement. Is this it? Was that a contraction? Is this the moment? Multiple times a day, texts would come in from my mom, mother-in-law, and best friends: Anything yet? No, nothing.

I think of the Jewish people, expectantly waiting for a Messiah. Their wait was not forty weeks (or forty-one and two days), but generations. For hundreds of years, they waited for the Messiah they thought was surely arriving yesterday. 

I can imagine that with every prophecy, every shift in the weather, and every change of regime and ruler, they wondered: Is this it? Is that the Messiah? Is this the moment?

Anything yet? No, nothing.

The truth about this Advent season is that I am not just waiting for a baby. I’m waiting to see how our family will change and how my sons will adjust to a new little attention-hog. I’m speculating about sleep patterns, labor pains, and weather reports. I’m waiting for my life and family to irreversibly, markedly change. I’m waiting for the hope and dream of this baby to become flesh, for my faith to become sight.

And the Jewish people were not waiting for merely a king. They were waiting for victory, for freedom, for generations of oppression to be reversed and rectified. They were waiting for a new reality and new story.

We all have something for which we’ve hoped, but the reality of which we can’t even imagine. So it was for the Jewish people waiting for a Messiah, so it is for us pregnant and adoptive mamas with approaching due dates and court dates, so it is for the patient waiting on clear scans, so it is for the graduate waiting on job offers.

We sit with our questions, our fears, and our hope. We sit, we watch, and we wait.

Advent has come to mean more and more to me over the past few years. November and December have been marked by pregnancy announcements and infant sons, by deaths and national tragedies, by lots of uncertainty and questions about what might be next. On some days, I have asked myself, “Where is God right now?” and I have cried literal tears as I prayed for his return. On other days, I have rejoiced and stood amazed at his goodness and obvious presence with us. I’ve felt the meaning of Advent deep in my bones.

And no matter in which place I found myself, hope is the anchor. We look to the star and walk hopefully in that direction, knowing that though we haven’t seen our Savior yet, he is surely on his way. It seems that Christmas is more meaningful when I don’t skip straight to the joy, instead pausing to acknowledge the longing and the desire and the heartache that comes first—for all of God’s people throughout time and also for me in this very moment.

“Maybe it’s a better thing, a better thing, to be more than merely innocent, but to be broken then redeemed by love.

Maybe this old world is bent, but it’s waking up, and I’m waking up.

‘Cause I can hear the voice of one. He’s crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready for the Kingdom Come.’ Don’t you want to thank someone for this?” –Andrew Peterson, “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”

This is the reality of Advent: hopeful anticipation, the slow and watchful journey toward our faith made sight.

Heavenly Father, we are waiting. Give us a glimpse of eternal realities, so we don’t miss a single sign of Your hope and Your presence this season.

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2 thoughts on “Advent, Week 1: Hope

  1. Yes, November and December have become a bit heavy for me too and I so agree that it’s so important to stop and enter into the longing and brokenness before jumping into the joy. I love Advent so much for giving us time to do that. I wonder if the extent to which we allow ourselves to feel the longing is the extent to which we feel the joy? Otherwise, what, really, is so joyous?

  2. Yes, exactly, Laura! Do you read Shannan Martin’s blog? I think you’d like this post: http://www.shannanmartinwrites.com/2016/11/two-kinds-of-buckets.html

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