"Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me." (Psalm 69: 1–3, NLT).
I associate Advent with waiting; waiting for Christmas, waiting for God’s coming, waiting for the promise, waiting for hope. However, what I usually imagine is the peaceful kind of waiting that you enjoy in the late night or early morning while you sip hot chocolate and listen to Christmas carols playing softly. Waiting that can be done while wrapped in a warm blanket, admiring the twinkling of hundreds of Christmas lights while loved ones snooze nearby.
Years ago, however, we dealt with a serious illness with our son. I remember many nights of sitting on the floor in the dark alone crying out to God. The physical surge of panic I often felt at those times was like a choking sensation. In more recent years I’ve experienced Advents of next-to-burnout exhaustion in ministry as well as empty-nesting Advents leading to empty-nesting Christmases. Grief and pain enter this season of waiting at unexpected times, in unexpected places. I understand the psalmist when he uses words like sinking, deep water, overwhelmed, exhausted, eyes swollen, can’t find a foothold. This kind of waiting takes on a whole new aspect of desperation—times when we know that if God doesn’t show up, we will not make it through!
As I reread this passage today, I have to ask myself, how desperate am I for a Savior? How great is my need of Jesus to come and be “God with me”? Is His coming essential, or is Christmas just a warm and fuzzy addition to the calendar year? These reflections prompted a poem, which I hope will inspire your own Advent reflections about waiting for God.
Sometimes it comes with quiet hush In the twinkle of a tree, in candlelight. The waiting is calm, peaceful even. His coming is Anticipated, longed for . . . but not life-changing.
Sometimes it comes in noisy rush In crowded malls and a flurry of credit cards. The waiting goes by unnoticed, too busy . . . His coming is Incidental, an interruption to the season’s agenda.
Sometimes it doesn’t come at all. In the lazy long years of history and sleepy indifference There is no more waiting. His coming is Completely forgotten, as is He.
But this year . . . This year advent came with rages And desperation, With tears, and fists shaking at leaden skies— God where are you?
Why have you not come? God I need you NOW! Come! Save!
His coming is Essential, non-negotiable, life-saving.
If He does not come Tears, desperation, shaking fists and rages Are all that remain of my lost soul. Forever.
And perhaps . . . Perhaps that’s exactly how Advent should be.
Warmly in Christ, Bev Hawkins
"And it will be said in that day, 'Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.'" (Isaiah 25:9, NASB)
1. Years ago, Heinz ketchup gave us the famous "anticipation" commercial, while proclaiming their product had "the taste that’s worth the wait." Reflect on the anticipation factor of Advent. Does intentional observation of Advent change how we experience Christmas? In what ways? 2. In what situations of your life are you shaking your fists at God and asking Him, "Where are you?" Where do you really need Him to come through for you? Can you proclaim by faith, "This is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us"? 3. What is one thing you might add to (or subtract from) your Advent observations this year to remind yourself and express to God how much you long for Him and His coming?