Does this time of year leave you looking for hope? Have you ever had a segment of time that just seemed like it wouldn’t end? A couple of days of my life immediately came to mind for me. The most fun was when I pulled an all-nighter with friends, then left the next evening to drive home 9 hours through the night. I stayed awake for 45 hours. 3:30 am with two hours to drive was the worst.
They say, “A watched pot never boils.” But I would argue waiting for the sunrise from 3 am to 5 am is the longest that time stretches. Finally, the sky began to turn grey, then whisper pink, and I knew we would make it okay.
There have been life events that also seemed to draw out like the last hours of morning darkness. I’m sure you’ve had a few in your life too. Days like the one where I flew home while I knew my grandma was dying, or the night hours of labor that lasted longer than I dreamed possible.
In those times, it’s easy to wonder if God is there.
Before the Baby in a Manger
The story of Christmas starts long before a baby is born in a manger. It starts with a garden and a man and a woman who live in perfect communion with God. We all know the story well. They believed God was holding out on them. They defied God when faced with the question “Can God be trusted?” And sin and brokenness entered the world, but not without God giving a beautiful promise.
God was not abandoning them but would send a Savior. He would crush sin, and overcome death and the curse. As they waited, one of their sons killed the other. Thorns destroyed crops. Famine and disease claimed others they loved. Eventually, they died and their children waited, passing on the stories of the promised one who would come. Years passed, then generations. Nations rose and fell, and yet God’s people still waited.
The law came to reveal how far off track things had become and how powerful the Savior would need to be. Psalms reminded Israel that God had not abandoned humanity forever. When distracted God sent prophets to remind them that what they saw wasn’t all there was to life and the world—thousands of years passed. With every baby boy born, they asked one another, “Is this the one? Has this baby come to deliver us?
What About Today
In our modern Christmas traditions, we are tempted to rush past the dark and quiet places of waiting, but that is a bit like ripping a rose open. Advent slows us down to remember the darkness before he came.
It also allows us a reflection of our own current human experience. Christ came but, we sit in an unusual part of history. We have so much joy and rejoice that a Savior has come. Yet, practically, we live in a world that is still incredibly broken.
In remembering how long the people of God waited for a Messiah it allows us to know that God is faithful and will show up, even when we can’t see how he will work right now!