Christmastime brings us lots of familiar stories of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the shepherds and wise men and so on. Seldom do we hear of a faithful man named Simeon and his deep desire to see the Christ child. He’s not in the nativity, that’s for sure. You can find him in Luke 2:25-25. If you haven’t read this, take a minute to go back and dig in.
You see, Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” That’s a long wait! When we read Scripture, we can’t glance over thing like this. We have to take it for what it really says and know the context. These words point to Simeon’s lifetime of waiting but also around four hundred years since the prophets last spoke. This wait for a Savior was long! You also see in the text that Simeon was “righteous and devout” and that he was waiting for Jesus with faithful anticipation. The story continues with a full temple- people everywhere, cooing over babies and religious leaders prominently walking around – and Mary and Joseph walk in with the long anticipated King without anyone noticing. Except for Simeon, that is! The name Simeon means “he who listens.” We see the meaning of his name come to life as he listens to the gentle whisper of the Spirit, hopping up with excitement and taking the baby, His King, into His arms. The story of Simeon points to a greater reality!
We see ‘waiting’ a lot in Scripture:
- The Hebrews waiting in Egypt under Pharaoh – 400 years
- Waiting for Jesus [Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 9:6-7]
- The disciples waiting for the Holy Spirit in the upper room after Jesus ascended.
- Even now, we wait for the Second Advent. Jesus is coming again!
Waiting is tough! Yes, Simeon waited well, but ultimately he is like us. Whether we realize or not, we face this tension between our soul and our flesh consistently. You see this in the God-Man when He is in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing the sacrifice that He will lay down very soon. In this tension he prays, “I am overwhelmed to the point of death…the Spirit is willing, but the flesh is so weak.” The reason that waiting is so tough is because our soul is longing for more, knowing that we were made to glorify God and commune with Him- but we hit this fleshly ceiling! Our flesh gets tangled in the here and now, and therein lies the tension, and we wrestle with it day in and day out.
Waiting is tough, but waiting is best because God is faithful! Isaiah tells us, “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you” (Isaiah 30:18a). In good times, when God’s hand is evident, God is faithful. In mundane times, when we are living on repeat and living the daily grind, God is faithful. In tough time, when we experience loss, heartache and we are hurting, God is faithful!
John Flavel said this, “The delay of your mercies is really for your advantage. Why is that? Delay is preparing your heart to receive mercy- that you may receive it with the greatest advantage of comfort. The foolish child would pluck the apple while it is green, but, when it is ripe, it drops of its own accord, and is more pleasant and wholesome. It is great mercy to have a heart willing to entrust all to God, and to be at His disposal, than to enjoy presently the mercy we are most eager and impatient for.”
What if Simeon didn’t wait? How much joy would have been stolen from him? When we faithfully anticipate God at work in all things, we aren’t surprised by His hand, but in awe of His meticulous work, seen and unseen, and that He allows us to play in those spaces! Simeon knew this truth and diligently waited with faithful anticipation for the greater joy that was to come! We can have joy now too. Jesus grants us this with his life, death and resurrection! But our fullness of Joy is coming. The Second Advent is near. Let’s wait with faithful anticipation.
Rich Dugan has been a camper, summer staff member, evangelist and has served on the Board of Directors. Rich is currently Pastor of Youth, Young Adults, and Life Groups at Zarephath Christian Church.