By: Catherine Larson|Published: December 8, 2009 5:33 PM
Pregnant Waiting (Dappled Light)
I think my husband and I are as giddy as children each night when we open another little window of our Advent calendar.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8
The Advent season is historically a season of waiting, and this year especially—six months pregnant and anticipating the birth of our first child—I find myself thinking about the grace and challenge of waiting.
Waiting is never easy. I’m probably not unlike many others when I write that I feel so much of my life has been spent in the posture of waiting. I’ve waited for injustice to be righted. I’ve waited for illness to be healed. I’ve waited for loved ones to come to know Jesus. I’ve waited for someone I’ve loved to do the right thing. I’ve waited to find a place to use my gifts. I’ve waited to find the man who would be my husband. I’ve waited to begin a family. I’m still so young, and already, it feels I’ve spent such a lifetime of waiting.
I don’t think this is unusual. As I read through the Scriptures, I find so many forebears of the faith, all of whom had to wait. Abraham and Sarah waiting for Isaac. Jacob waiting for Rachel. Joseph waiting for vindication. The Israelites waiting for release. Moses waiting in the wilderness. Hannah waiting for a child. David waiting to take the throne. The prophets waiting for God’s people to repent. Simeon and Anna waiting for a glimpse of the Messiah.
Such a hallowed hall of waiting saints—one that Hebrews tells us waited also for things that were never fulfilled in their lifetimes. I don’t feel so alone when I stand within these hallways of waiting, groaning saints.
But in my life, I’ve experienced two types of waiting—and one I must confess has been much, much harder than the other. There is the kind of waiting where there are no signs your prayers will be answered in the way that you hope. And then there is the kind of waiting where (while often there is no certainty) you observe tangible signs that your waiting will be rewarded. I’d call the first lonely waiting and the second pregnant waiting.
Lonely waiting reminds me of Job’s kind of waiting. He had no guarantee that God would heal his physical wounds in his lifetime. In fact, for much of the book of Job, one wonders if God is even listening to Job—He seems so distant, so silent. The silence of God seems only filled by the useless words spoken by Job’s friends, who only serve to heap more discouragement on Job’s ash-covered head.
In my life, such periods of waiting have been immensely lonely. They’ve tried my patience and at times, my faith. Like Job, during those times, I’ve had to remember that the biggest and best things I wait for do not fall into this category of waiting. But more on that, in a moment.
The second kind of waiting I’m calling pregnant waiting. It’s waiting with a promise—or if not a promise, some kind of visible sign that things are changing, moving, limping in the direction of that for which we wait. When I think of this kind of waiting, I think of Abraham and Sarah who had the promise of Isaac, or Moses who, while he waited on Pharaoh to release God’s people, saw seven plagues fall just as God had said they would.
Pregnant waiting is so much easier than lonely waiting. If you are looking for them, there are signs that things are growing, changing, moving. Each week as I wait for my baby to arrive, my body changes a bit more. I feel kicks of the little life that is growing inside me. I have reason to hope and to believe that this waiting will result in the birth of a child.
“See, I am doing a new thing! Now, it springs up; do you not perceive it?” says the Lord (Isaiah 43:19a). There’s a sprig in the ground. Return a few weeks later, and little leaves are unfurling, and the stalk is taller than before. And finally, there is one tender fruit that ripens. That fruit heralds a message: “More to come, more to come, more to come!”
Not all our waiting is like this. But perhaps the most important kind of waiting is. The book of Romans tells us that the greatest of things we wait for—the Second Advent and the final consummation of all things—is this kind of pregnant waiting.
Job knew it. Even in the midst of his physical suffering, he waited for something even better. He said, “For I know my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed; yet in my flesh, I will see God. I myself will see him with my own eyes—I and not another” (Job 19:25-27).
Our God—who cannot lie—has promised us that if we believe in His Son, (a Redeemer Job only knew by a faith that looked forward, and I know by a faith that looks backward) that we will see Him face-to-face one day, when all things are made right.
We’ve been given signs that this is true. Jesus, who was raised from the dead, is the first-fruit. His resurrection body is supposed to signal to me that if I believe in Him, God too will raise me on that day—that there is more resurrection to come.
The Holy Spirit also has been given to us as a sign that this is true. The Holy Spirit is called a pledge, like an engagement ring it promises that God will do all that He said. That one day all things will be made right. That His shalom will fill the new heavens and the new earth. That every tear will be wiped from the eyes of those who have believed in Him. That God will judge the living and the dead. That justice will have its day and mercy also. That we will reign with Him in glory.
We are pregnant with just such a hope. Even God’s creation, Romans tells us, is pregnant with just such a hope. And as the days near, we groan, we cry out, because all things are pushing in this direction. Something will be born. We groan, we cry out now, but as we cry it is with the knowledge that things are moving, pushing, stretching in the direction of that for which we long. Our ultimate hope will one day be born. Amen. Maranatha!
Catherine Larson is a senior writer for BreakPoint.
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