“If you do not hope, you will not find what is beyond your hopes.” ~ St. Clement of Alexandria
How long will it be? We can’t go on like this. When will it end? Has God forgotten us? These might all be questions you are asking as we struggle through this pandemic. It seems like it will never end. Imagine those same sentiments, struggles and faith-questions for thousands of years. That was humanity waiting for a savior. The messiah is first foretold in Genesis after the fall of Adam and Eve. Even when His coming was foretold by the prophet Isaiah it was still 700 years before Jesus was born. It was a time of great waiting. But not waiting without hope.
Today begins the season of Advent. This is a season of waiting, it is a season of hope. Most of us don’t like to wait. Whether it is waiting 5 minutes in the line at the grocery store or waiting 5 seconds for someone to respond to our text message, we don’t want to “waste” time. In our busy lives it seems we have far too much to do. Waiting gets in the way of accomplishing what we want to get done. I often spend my time of waiting by getting work done on my phone. I want to be productive. When we have to wait with nothing to do it often leads to anger, frustration, or stress. We have come to expect things fast. To “wait” has even become offensive – a “four-letter word.” While we may not like to wait, waiting can be a spiritual experience.
Waiting can help us to grow spiritually. First, waiting can foster humility. We wait usually because we aren’t in control of a situation. In reality, beyond our responses, there is little in life that we can control. When we have to wait it is good to consider what God is asking us to do. Maybe He is asking us to let go of something over which I have no control? Waiting can also help us be mindful of time. Time is a gift from God. If we don’t give in to the temptation to be frustrated, we can be mindful of what God has given us. It provides the chance to thank God for the time, abilities, etc. that he has given us.
Most importantly, waiting can inspire hope. We wait for something to happen. When we look ahead to something desired, positive and significant it brings hope. Think about anticipating the birth of a child or a reunion with a longtime friend. Our hearts are engaged in hope because we are looking forward to what will happen. The theological virtue of hope is practicing in the trust and expectant waiting for the fuller life with God, promised to us. This certainly happens after our earthly life but it also is offered in this life. God comes to us here and now. Fostering hope and waiting for God is the most important of all experiences of waiting. That is our theme this Advent.
It seems like hope has been in short supply in the last few months. We were hoping for a short duration to this pandemic. Then we were hoping for a drop in cases and effective treatment. We have been hoping for a vaccine. Most of all, we have been hoping for a return to normal… if that is even possible. What we can hope for in the midst of our uncertain world is Christ Jesus.
Advent is a time to prepare for Christ to come again in our lives, in our world and at the end of time. As we begin this season of waiting, even as we are waiting-weary people, let us look to Christ. He is our hope and our reason we can wait with anticipation, fortitude and hope. As much as we long for this pandemic to end, it is Christ’s coming which we anticipate.
“He, watches for Christ, who has a sensitive, eager, apprehensive mind, who is awake, alive, quick sighted, zealous in seeking and honoring Him, who looks out for Him in all that happens and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if he found that He was coming at once.” ~ St. John Henry Cardinal Newman
Yours in Christ,