One of the central themes of the Advent season is waiting. Just as Mary and Joseph awaited the birth of their son and the Jewish people waited for the arrival of the long-anticipated Messiah, we must wait. Wait for Christmas...wait for friends to come...wait for the phone to ring...wait for God.
This kind of waiting requires patience. Patiently waiting for God to answer prayers, to show us a sign, or to point us in the direction we need to go, are all part of faith. Indeed, patience itself is an act of faith.
The word patience comes from the Latin verb, patior, “to suffer.” It is more than a little ironic that people who receive medical treatment are called “patients.” Illness brings out the impatience in all of us (something I know all too well right now). Few things make us more anxious than waiting for an answer to a medical test, or taking the time needed to recuper- ate from surgery or illness. We want doctors to do something already: give us a pill or a shot to speed the healing process along. Yet doctors will tell us that most healing is gradually accomplished by our bodies themselves.
Healing takes time. That goes for our spiritual health as well. Rarely do we get the quick fix we desire. The best answers to prayer generally do not come quickly but are revealed to us over time. Sometimes the signs are there long before we see them, but we are blinded by our pre-determined ideas of what is best for us.
Waiting with patience means living fully in the present, yet open to the way God is taking us. It is staying alert to what is happening in our lives, that we may see the light of God’s dawn breaking into our darkness.
To wait is to suffer. But it is a suffering based in hope for what is to come. For
some, that means waiting for Santa. For others, it might be anticipating a good
holiday. For people of faith, it means waiting upon the Lord. The Lord who
came once in a tiny child with some very big news about God’s love for the
world. The Lord who will come again at the end of history. And the Lord who will come in our present time with the love that can heal our world right now.
Yes, things take time. We can wait with toes impatiently tapping and our nerves frayed. Or we can wait with patience and with confidence, not always knowing what the future holds, but knowing always Who holds the future.
So, stay awake, keep alert. Be patient. God will come to you.
P.S. Click the picture or link below to read the full December 2022 edition of The Beacon.