Advent: Waiting in Hope
"We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”
- Psalm 33:20-22
Be honest. Waiting drives us crazy. Waiting for the red light to turn green. Waiting for your friend to return your text or email. Waiting for your venti triple no-fat no-whip white mocha.
Of course, not all waiting is so trivial.
Waiting for test results.
Waiting for news from loved ones.
Waiting for wrongs to be made right.
Advent is a season that calls us into a posture of waiting and longing. But this is not a toe-tapping, hand-wringing, teeth-clenching waiting. The Psalmist proclaims that "we wait in hope”. But what does it mean to wait in hope? And how can hope be embraced when the pain is real and the situation is desperate?
Maybe it has something to do with how we wait. While we wait, where do our thoughts go? How do we speak about our waiting? What do we do in our waiting? If we are waiting in hope, we can’t be waiting in fear. If we are waiting in hope, we can’t be waiting in despair.
Stop and think about your own waiting. How can you, in a real and practical way, wait in hope?
Maybe you need to let words like this fill your thoughts – "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4).
Maybe you need to reframe how you talk about your waiting – "By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us…” (Luke 1:78)
Maybe you need to change behaviour or take action – "The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12)
And yet, this is so often easier said than done. Sometimes hope seems elusive.
Take for example, Miranda*. Miranda was a vulnerable girl who was lured into an abusive relationship, experienced sexual assault and then was sold for sex. How can she wait in hope when she has a powerful oppressor controlling her?
Or what about the very young children being sexually exploited online who have no physical power to stop what is happening to them. How do they wait in hope?
Perhaps in those times, when hope seems so distant for those individuals, we are called to bridge the gap between hope and despair and wait with hope on their behalf. We do this by choosing to reflect and pray for God’s presence to be with those who are facing violence; choosing to envision and ask God for the best possible outcomes and choosing to advocate for those who are powerless.
But the hard reality is that waiting in hope doesn’t miraculously make everything sunshine and rainbows. We still face heartache, challenges, and brokenness in our world. But as we wait in hope, God miraculously transforms and changes us as we are given eyes to see as He sees.
This advent season, let us be transformed into people of hope as we wait for the Lord.
Join us in waiting and praying this Advent season. The prayer of Waiting and Longing is a great resource created by theologian Walter Brueggemann from his book "Prayers for a Privileged People". We've provided you with a free pdf copy to guide you in your times of prayer and reflection.
Free download here:
This blog post is part one in a four-part series on the Advent season. Check back weekly for upcoming posts.