by Christy Aanderud
December 16, 2020
Waiting. More often than not, it’s a negative thing. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. Think about the sayings:
“The wait is finally over.” (Waiting must be excruciating.)
“What are you waiting for?” (Waiting is cowardly.)
“Good things come to those who wait.” (Your discomfort will eventually pay off.)
Why is it uncomfortable? Why is waiting for something—anything!—so nerve-wracking? I think it’s because waiting so often means not knowing. And that’s the hardest part, isn’t it?
When I think of waiting, my mind is immediately drawn to childbirth. All three of my children arrived at least one week past their due date. (My third was finally evicted.) And especially with my firstborn, the waiting was brutal. We knew that she would “come out,” but we didn’t know when—or even how. We hoped and prayed, holding joyful anticipation in tension with nervous uncertainty. Minute after minute, day after day, week after week . . . We knew something big was about to happen, but we were honestly clueless about what it would really be like.
Whether or not you’ve given birth, you undoubtedly know what it’s like to wait. Especially after living through 2020—the year when waiting was jacked up to a whole new level. The year when waiting grew to mean enduring. Isolating. Questioning. Watching helplessly. Mourning.
Will it spread? Wait and see.
Will the government have to step in? Wait and see.
How invasive will restrictions be? Wait and see.
Will it get worse before it gets better? We can only wait.
Will schools reopen in the fall? We’ll have to wait and see.
When will a vaccine be available? Just hold tight.
Will we be able to see family for the holidays? Can we still hold our wedding? Will my husband be able to be in the delivery room with me? We don’t know yet. We’ll have to wait and see.
Is anyone else tired of waiting?
Now here’s the irony. (Or, more likely, one more example of the redemptive power of the gospel.)
At the tail-end of a year filled with “waiting to the extreme,” our family—and probably yours!—put our Christmas tree up early. Very early. Way-before-Thanksgiving early. Why? Because we wanted an injection of joy and cheer. We were weary and wanted the Advent season to start. NOW.
(Do you see it yet? The irony?)
Advent. The word means “coming,” and the season refers to “a time of expectant waiting and preparation for both the celebration of the Nativity of Christ at Christmas and the return of Christ at the Second Coming” (thank you, Google).
Advent is literally a season of waiting! And yet it isn’t the nail-biting, weary, “just tell me when it’s over” waiting that we’ve grown used to this year. Why not? What makes it different?
It’s different because WE KNOW WHAT’S COMING. We’re in on the secret. Jesus. He’s already been born! And the victory—the final victory over death—has already been won! Our waiting is a celebration. A gigantic exhale.
It’s like playing the final round of poker with a royal flush in your hand and every player is all in. Your anxiety and uncertainty is stripped away, and you’re simply giddy with anticipation for the reveal of your hand. This waiting is fun.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn*
He has come, and he will come again.
Enjoy the wait.
* from “O Holy Night,” translated by John Sullivan Dwight
Christy and her husband Danny are on staff with Novo (formerly Church Resource Ministries), serving in Oxford, England. When not building relationships and ministry among local mums, Christy is busy homeschooling her three children, training a puppy and tending to her backyard flock of ducks.