There's a whole lot of waiting in the Christmas story, too. You don't see it because the narrative skips from one event to the next, but it's there.
Zechariah and Elizabeth waited decades to have a child (Luke 1:5-7).
Mary waited to see what Joseph would do (Matthew 1:18-25).
Mary and Joseph both waited for the days to be "completed for her to give birth" (Luke 2:6).
Simeon waited his whole life to see the Lord's anointed one (Luke 2:25-26)
The Magi waited, seeking for two years until they found the child Jesus (Matthew 2:1-16).
In all of these cases, the waiting was both passive and active. On the one hand, the situation in which they found themselves was out of their control. There was nothing they could do to make things happen any faster. On the other hand, they didn't just sit on their hands and do nothing. They lived, they prayed, they obeyed.
What was their secret? And how can we learn to wait in a way that builds rather than driving ourselves crazy? I think one key is found in a passage that we don't associate with Christmas - Psalm 130:
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins. (Psalm 130:1-8 NIV)
I see five secrets to waiting with confidence in that passage that I want to share with you.
We can wait with confidence because God is forgiving. Have you ever felt that God is withholding some blessing from you because of past sins? That is not how he works. But, while he certainly may orchestrate events in such a way that we learn what we need to, he is full of forgiveness and wants our best.
We can wait with confidence because of His Word. We can know who he is and what he is like and what is important to him because he has entrusted us with the treasure of His word, the Bible. My waiting goes much better when I use that time to learn from the Scriptures!
We can wait with confidence because he is full of love and keeps his promises. That doesn't mean, of course, that he will always give us what we want, but we can trust that he will keep every single promise in His word, and that everything he does will be influenced by His great love.
We can wait with confidence when the Lord is our focus. When we are waiting for the Lord "more than watchmen wait for the morning", more than anything else, then our focus is on him and not on the change in our circumstances that we think will increase our happiness. And whatever his answer to our cries, we can rest in His embrace.
Easier said than done, I know. Trust me, I know! But as I go through Advent this year and think about the very real people who waited over two thousand years ago for Jesus to be born, as I go through my own seasons of waiting, I am trying to focus on these truths about the God who I am waiting on, who holds eternity and time in His hands...and who holds me and you as well.
Are you in a season of waiting this Christmas? What promise from God's word can you cling to?