Worth the Wait

This is a time for waiting. One of my daughters woke up recently and wanted to draw out a count-down calendar for Christmas, complete with pictures of real ants (the animal), to signify the date when my wife’s sisters arrive, as well as two pairs of eye-glasses, to represent the day when gramma and grandpa get here. And of course, December 25, had wonderful presents on it with big bows and ribbons. But those 25 days to cross off, to a 6-year old, seem like an eternity. How will we possibly wait so long?

This season, which Christians have called advent, is a time of longing and expectation. We put ourselves in the shoes of ancient Israel, knowing that their promised king would one day arrive. But we are patiently waiting, not for his first coming, but his last. I want to write about (1) the importance, (2) lack and (3) worth of waiting for Jesus’ second coming, as we count down the days to celebrating Christmas.

1. The Importance of Waiting:Patient endurance is essential to the Christian life. What does Paul list first, when he is describing the attributes of love, in 1 Corinthians 13:4? “Love is patient…” Sandwiched as the middle part of the fruit of the Spirit (4th out of 7 aspects of the fruit the Spirit bears in our life) is patience. The whole Christian hope is bound up in waiting for what we do not see: “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).

The Psalmist in Psalm 130 says waiting in the Lord is like being a watchman, charged with staying awake all night, protecting a home or city from surprise invaders in the dark, and waiting for the the first beams of light to pierce the night sky. “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, in his word I hope, my soul waits, more than the watchmen for the morning… (Psalm 130:5-6)

When John wrote from the island of Patmos he introduced himself as, “your brother and partner in tribulation and the kingdom, and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.” This is what the whole book of Revelation calls us to as believers: wait in the Lord! Three churches are praised, in the book of Revelation for their patient endurance (Ephesus 2:2, Thytira 2:19, Philadelphia 3:10).

But an active, longing, focused waiting is hard!

2. The Lack of Patience:

Our tendency is to want what we want, the way we want it, when we want it: Now! My wife recently did a bake sale in our neighborhood and our girls each helped out, and earned some money to buy Christmas presents for each other. When we took our three daughters to the store to look for presents for each other, our three-year old promptly lost any notion that we were Christmas shopping for her sisters. She walked up to a beautiful baby doll complete with a pink, plastic stroller and said, “Can I buy this for me?” Christmas was a long time away, and waiting for someone else to buy something for her, wrapping it, and then waiting to open it for 3 long weeks all seemed like a futile exercise. Why couldn’t she just have it now.

But again, I have have exactly the same heart as my little three-year old daughter. I hate waiting. I love quick transformations, and exciting experiences. I remember my Dad telling me, many times growing up, “not every day can be special.” You’ll need to wait. I wanted to wake up every morning and hear the news that we were doing something exciting and different that day. Instead, most days, we still had to wake up and do our schoolwork, take care of chores, and give our hearts to ordinary tasks.

For over 2,000 years, Christians have been living, waiting and dying in the paradox that Jesus promised he would return soon. This was why Revelation was written, “to show his servants the things that must soon take place…for the time is near” (Revelation 1:1, 3). Why would God call the passing of many, many generations, his soon return? Because he desires us to eagerly, patiently, wait for him. To hope for what we do not see.

But is it all worth the wait?

3. The Worth of Waiting

The book of Revelation is structured around sets of sevens. When I was in college, I helped put on a production where a woman with a remarkable memory recited the whole book from memory set to a score performed by the London Symphony Orchestra. I still remember the effect, as you listen to the book read or recited out loud for an hour and twenty minutes, that these seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls have. It builds anticipation and makes you excited for where the book is taking you!

The book portrays remarkable sufferings that Christians will have to endure patiently, a horrible beast and armies that surround God’s people. But Revelation also promises that, at the end of all this waiting, wars, hunger and perhaps even death, they will see God, and all the waiting and enduring will absolutely be worth it:Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

In this season of December waiting, I encourage you, as I speak to my own heart, patiently endure! Wait for the coming of Jesus! As surely as as the sun rises in the morning, and presents are worth waiting for under the tree on December 25, Jesus will return and after the many years, all the generations of Christians will say, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).


Recommended resources on patience and the book of Revelation:

Jerry Bridges, The Fruitful Life Bridges makes the point, about patience, that a confidence in the justice and fairness of God will often enable us to patiently wait through circumstances that seem unjust or difficult to endure. Bridges writes in a very simple, Biblical and straightforward way.

George Bethune The Fruit of the Spirit I really appreciate books by pastors from other generations. When I taught a Sunday school class on the fruit of the Spirit, I noticed that Bridges kept on quoting this book by a pastor and hymn-writer, of French Huguenot descent, who lived and ministered in New York and Pennsylvania his whole life (1805-1862). I really appreciate how Bethune sets up, in the first chapter, the triune work of God in us to produce his fruit in our lives.

Karen Heimbuch, reading The Revelation set to the London Symphony Orchestra. https://youtu.be/cQRzmzsl5oc If you take a long drive this December, click on this wonderful production of the entire book of Revelation. It’s really worth listening to!

1 Comment

Thanks Adrian for the reminders of being ready for Jesus second coming. It is amazing how reminders of what we can look forward too brings more joy and reasons for thanksgiving, The sermons, our Titus, 2, HARPS, Our Mark study, Health issues, The book of Job, The evil in the days we are living in resemble the Days when Judah forgot God and Jesus came to save us and gives us the joy and assurance of Salvation. Thanks

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