Editor's note:

Richella Parham has graciously allowed us to share a recent post from her website, Imparting Grace. It just happens to be a perfect bookend to this week’s Renovaré Podcast (linked below) in which she chats with Nathan Foster about the “liturgy of waiting.”  

We hope this enhances the start of your Advent. 

—Renovaré Team

Every few years, some kind of small appliance emerges as the latest and greatest holiday gift. From the Vegomatic to the Fry Daddy to the George Foreman grill—there’s always something that promises great returns for the home cook. This year is no exception. The latest craze? The Instant Pot, a countertop gadget that will cook food in a fraction of the time of other methods.

That’s not really surprising, is it? Nobody likes to wait. We get out of it whenever we can. We drive on expressways, choose the express lane at the grocery store, and pay extra for express shipping.

Like it or not, though, this kind of waiting is part of life. Slow-moving traffic or cash register lines might be irritating, but mostly they just try our patience.

Another kind of waiting, though, requires a lot more than patience.

Prisoners wait to be set free.
 Chronically ill patients wait to be healed.
  Refugees wait to return home.
   Separated families wait to be reunited.
    Those in danger wait to be rescued.

That kind of waiting takes courage—courage to remain strong and faithful, no matter how long the waiting takes. 

The ancient Israelites knew a lot about that kind of waiting. Long promised a Messiah, they endured centuries of hardship. Siege. Destruction. Exile. Slavery. No wonder the psalmist sang:

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 31:24 ESV)

Hope is what fueled their courage: hope for the coming of the Messiah, hope for the fulfillment of all of God’s promises.

In the book of Lamentations we read:

I remember my affliction and my wandering,
  the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
  and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
  and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
  for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
  great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
  therefore I will wait for him.”

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
  to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:19-26, NIV)

The season of Advent is about waiting. As we live on this side of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, it’s easy for us to distance ourselves from the Israelites. We know that the promised Messiah came. With the angels we sing “Glory to God in the highest!” We live in the light of the Incarnation. 

But in a needful and powerful way, Advent links our hearts to the hearts of God’s people who longed for the coming of the Savior. As we survey the carnage of a world wracked with sin, we pine for the second coming of the Savior, when everything wrong will be set right.

We watch. We wait. We long for the day when all will be well. Even now we run on the fuel of hope. And like always, hope comes from the same source. The Lord’s mercies are still new every morning. He is eternally good to those whose hope is in him. 

From this hope we take courage. This Advent season, let’s encourage one another. Perhaps these words of Paul’s could be our prayer for each other: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV) 

God, help us to wait with the sure knowledge of your steadfast love.

The Renovaré Book Club

You’re invited to a journey through soul-shaping books, like C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and Chris Hall’s Living Wisely with the Church Fathers. Read intentionally with a guided plan. Go deeper with exclusive study guides, essays, and podcasts. Engage meaningfully in online or in-person discussion groups. Running now—June 2018. Join today - or order a gift membership for someone you love!

Learn more >

Originally published by Imparting Grace, whose permission to publish this piece we acknowledge with gratitude.