Hope in the Waiting

Standing in line for coffee, sitting in traffic, watching for the elevator, or listening for your boarding zone to be called. As much as we resist the idea, waiting is an everyday part of life. Sometimes there is joy in waiting, like the anticipation of the birth of a child, planning a family vacation, or listening for the punchline of a joke your three-year-old is trying to tell. Sometimes the waiting is painful, even unbearable. Waiting for the results of a medical test, the outcome of an appeal, or the decision after a critical job interview.  

What does it look like to wait when all hope seems lost? Abraham and Sarah waited years for a child of their own. Joseph waited in a dark and dirty pit, only to be sold into slavery. Habakkuk cried out, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1:2 ESV) during Israel’s time of longing and waiting for the first coming of the Messiah. Each was given a promise—hope that a plan for fulfillment and rescue was in place. There was suffering, loss, and sorrow in the wait, but also a glimmer of hope for better things to come.

When we are waiting, hope means trusting what God says more than trusting what we can see or even feel.

Our story of redemption has already been written—our greatest need was met with the greatest gift—Jesus. God created a pathway for our restoration within this shattered and fallen world. Jesus came to this earth as Immanuel, “God with us.” God himself came to this earth, shared our despair, our shame, our temptations, and then willingly went to the cross to rescue us from death and sin.

When Jesus arose from the dead and ascended to heaven, we were not left to face life alone. Jesus knew we could not wait in hope without him. So he promised to give us his Spirit: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).  

Just like Abraham, Sarah, Joseph and Habakkuk hoped in the Lord for rescue and redemption, our hope is anchored in Jesus’s promise to come again and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). In the meantime, he redeems our shame with his salvation, our messiness with his mercy, and our fear with his faithfulness.

This is the premise of Advent—we remember the wait for the Rescuer who was promised. As we rejoice in the celebration of his first coming, we now wait for his return, trusting beyond what we can see or feel. Waiting for the one who will restore and rescue all that has been lost and broken.

May this Advent season offer a shining beacon of hope in the one who was sent and will come again to rescue and redeem, Our Lord and Savior, Jesus.

The Gospel-Centered Parent

This ten-session small group resource will help parents apply the gospel of Jesus Christ to their families. Each lesson looks at parenting through the lens of God’s grace for sinners (parents and children) and gives parents a gospel center to their parenting. 

About the author

Deborah Harrell

Deborah Harrell is the Overseas Educational Advisor for Serge, with a degree in Child Development and Family Relations from the University of Arizona. Deborah is the author of the award-winning children's novel, Pinto's Hope, and contributing author of numerous articles in professional journals. She is also the co-author of The Gospel-Centered Parent, What's Up? Discovering the Gospel, Jesus, and Who You REALLY Are, and What's Up? Elementary: Learning about God and Yourself. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Jason, and daughter, Sarah.

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