by Pastor William Voelker
Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Marshall
We tell the kids that patience is a virtue, we want to have the ability to be patient and wait, but we never want to actually have to wait. We’re fine with the idea — but putting it into practice? No thank you.
The waiting we’re enduring right now can be for many different things: the waiting for a test result, for things to get back to normal, for us to be able to get back to work, for kids to get back in school, for not having to worry whether or not we might catch COVID-19 when we venture out of doors, for not having to feel unsafe or that we might not have enough to get through the next month or year, and you can add whatever else you’re waiting for. All this waiting can fray nerves, put little cracks in relationships that grow over time, drive us into truly unhealthy behavior patterns, and make sleep difficult, each day feel too long, and us feeling uncertain and out of sorts.
These results are pretty apparent even after what has only been a few weeks. We don’t wait well, and if there is an extended waiting period yet to come, then what’s inside our homes, what’s inside our selves may very well get more than a little ugly.
The story of God’s people that we are given in the Bible is a story all about waiting. The overarching wait is for the savior promised to Adam and Eve, but found within that larger story are many other stories of waiting. Abraham and Sarah waited decades for their son promised to them by God, and there are numerous other couples who wait years and years in the hopes of having children. God’s people wait decades, even centuries, to be released from the control of their enemies, from slavery, from exile away from their homeland. God’s people wait for God to act over and over again, and those waits were, in nearly every case, neither easy nor short. Repeatedly in the Psalms, songs of God’s people found in the Bible, we hear their singers call out, “How long, O Lord?” They, like we still do today, look to God in trust and hope, praying for speedy rescue from troubles.
Christians are still waiting, but only for things to wrap up: we await Jesus’ return, for the Last Day to come and for all creation to be set right again, with God’s people raised from death to life that will not end. What we’re not waiting for right now, however, is for the savior promised to Adam and Eve. Jesus has already fulfilled his mission to overcome sin, death and the devil, and so we are not left waiting, wondering if we will ever be delivered from these terrors, whether God cares for us, whether God will deliver on what he said he would do, or not.
And because Jesus has already done what he came to do, because he has lived and died for us, been raised back to life for us — as we get to celebrate this coming Sunday — and lives and rules over creation even right now, because of these things we don’t have to worry about those questions. Yet we also, because of these things, because Jesus lives, know that all waiting will come to an end, and that we will not be left hanging in the end. Because of these things we also can turn to the Lord in prayer, asking him to not only bring a swift end to our waiting (of all sorts), but to pray that he would make these times of waiting more than merely endurable, but instead times when he would work in and on us to learn, to grow, to study the Scriptures, to serve our neighbor, to rest when we otherwise wouldn’t (or won’t), to grow in faith, hope and trust, and to know that he is with us through the wait, just as he was before the wait and will be when it is all over with.
May God bless and keep you in this time of waiting for both our nation and world, and may you find joy in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead for our sake. Know that you do not wait alone: we wait together, and we wait on the Lord.