Waiting in Hope
Christmas is a time of waiting. As we reflect on the birth of our Savior, we consider what His coming to earth meant for all of mankind. In some churches, pastors preach about the many prophecies of His coming, and the fulfillment of those prophecies. This boosts our faith, because we see how our forefathers waited for their promised messiah, and we see that their longing for a Savior was satisfied in Christ. This informs our hope for that same Messiah’s return: We have confidence that He will come back because the Scriptures prophesied His incarnation, and that promise was fulfilled.
But what about the things He has not promised? What about the return of a wayward child, or the repentance of an unfaithful spouse? Many of us are waiting for these things, with heavy hearts and troubled minds. How do we wait with hope, when God has not promised that our earthly hope will be fulfilled? I would answer that question with two more questions.
Where have you placed your hope?
Is your hope in a circumstance? Can it be satisfied only if that child returns home or that spouse repents? If so, your hope is in a very fragile and insecure place. Any hope that depends on what people do is no hope at all. Jeremiah 17:9-10 says that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Only God knows the truth about your loved one’s heart, and only God can determine the outcome of the circumstance. Meanwhile, He is testing your faith, watching to see where you will place your hope.
The only secure place for your hope is in Christ. He alone is able to sustain you through whatever heartache or pain this season of waiting is causing you. Psalm 73:26 tells us that, even when our hearts and our flesh fail, God is our strength, and He is all we really need. Moreover, He is the One who gets to define the word, need in every case. Philippians 4:19 says that God will supply all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ. If we take this verse to mean that God is going to give us what we believe we need, then we are in trouble. Who truly knows what our needs are? Is it our deceitful hearts that know best what we need, or the One who created us for His glory? Your answer to that question, and your willingness to submit to His evaluation of your needs, will determine where your hope is.
What will satisfy the longing of your heart?
What is the deepest desire of your heart? Is it the restoration of your marriage? Healing from pain or sickness? Reconciliation with a prodigal child, or some other earthly relationship? If the deepest longing of your heart—the thing you want more than anything else in all of life— involves the outcome of anything in this world, then your hope is perilously misplaced. But, if that deepest desire matches God’s purpose in creating you, then you can be sure that it will be fulfilled:
Bring My sons from afar,
And My daughters from the ends of the earth—
Everyone who is called by My name,
Whom I have created for My glory;
I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” ~Isaiah 43:6b-7
Based on this passage, who made you? For what purpose?
That’s right, God created you for His glory. How are you doing with that right now? As you wait for your spouse’s repentance, are you praising God and pleading with Him to change his heart, or are you worrying, complaining, and hopelessly slogging around from one day to the next, thinking that he will never change? As you wait for your prodigal, are you are you bound up in hand-wringing worry, stalking her Facebook page and checking your phone for messages; or are you praying and trusting God, submitted to His timing and His plan? In each of these scenarios, one response brings glory to God and the other does not.
What are you waiting for this Christmas season, dear reader? What is the deepest desire of your heart as you wait for the coming King? Is it God’s glory? If so, you can be sure that your desire will be fulfilled. Christ has come to earth to offer salvation for your prodigal, healing for your broken heart, and comfort in your troubles. Though He does not promise that each prayer will be answered as we would have it, He does promise the opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which you were created—to bring glory to Him. What are you waiting for?