When the waiting feels lonely

I like to think of Advent as a beautiful season of anticipation, joy and expectation. And while it is those things, it can also be quite lonely.

We might be waiting for things that others don’t understand or that they themselves haven’t had to wait for. I think about people who want to have a baby. Get married. Find a fulfilling job. Experience miraculous healing. Waiting for such things can be very lonely and also confusing. It’s hard not to wonder if you’re doing something wrong.

Not only that, others might question (even unintentionally) your willingness to wait. Whether it’s a podcast, a post or a friend, the message our culture preaches is clear. That we can take control of our situation, go get that life we’ve always dreamed of, manifest our destiny. These messages can be positive in the right light, but they can also push for action in moments when patience might be needed instead.

When others question us – or when they get the very things we’ve been waiting for – it makes the already hard task of waiting even harder. 

2 Peter 3, a chapter that speaks to the Lord’s second coming, addresses the fact that others might not understand the waiting – and even more than that, they might outright question it.

2 Peter 3:4 says, “They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”

That’s the temptation – to believe that things will never change just because they haven’t yet. We must be careful to not speak that over ourselves nor over others. Instead, may we seek to do what the book of 2 Peter sought to do – remind

Chapter 3 starts out with this verse: “Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders…”

He goes on the rest of the chapter to encourage them to recall the promises made in the past and remind them that the doubt of others doesn’t make the promises any less true. It felt like just about every other sentence was a reminder or an encouragement to keep going: “I want you to recall…” (verse 2). “Above all, you must understand…” (verse 3). “But do not forget…” (verse 8). “Look forward to the day of God…” (verse 12). “Make every effort…” (verse 14). “Bear in mind…” (verse 15). “Be on your guard…” (verse 17). “Grow in grace and knowledge…” (verse 18). 

You get the point.

It seems that waiting has always gone against our nature. It did two thousand years ago, and it does today. And, as with anything, it’s so much harder to persevere in the waiting when you don’t have support. 

So, what if we made Advent not just a time of personal expectation but communal encouragement? A time to not only reclaim the individual purpose of waiting but to also acknowledge the beauty – and necessity – of doing it in community? Because while waiting is vulnerable, it doesn’t have to be lonely. Let’s encourage each other this Advent.

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