Today’s Advent Devotion comes from Jennifer Nieves. Check back each day for a new devotion.
What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the next big thing to happen in your life? Are you waiting for Christmas and the promise of that gift you’ve been asking for? Are you waiting for your birthday and the chance to finally get your license? Are you waiting for the summer and for Teen Camp?
Ever feel like camp is “home”? Do you ever find yourself wishing you could just be there with your friends and people around you that live out faithful lives and leave all the distractions, hurt and pain behind?
In Isaiah 35 we read about what Israel is waiting and wishing for. They are in exile, far away from their home. They are yearning for the joy that will await them, if they could just get home. And more than just the physical comfort of the familiarity of Jerusalem, they are hopeful for the promise of goodness when God returns and rights the wrongs of the world.
Advent is a season of waiting. First, we wait upon the celebration of Jesus coming in the form of a baby, to become the Savior of humanity. This is the reason we parallel in this season waiting for Christmas morning and the joy of opening gifts, just as Christ was THE gift that first Christmas. The second waiting; however, is the waiting for the next time Jesus will appear. For the promise that he will “wipe every tear from [our] eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying. For the old order of things [will] pass away”. (Revelation 21:4)
But that time is not yet. There is a promise, but we live in the waiting. And in the waiting there is difficulty, there is mourning and death. There is all the hard stuff that comes with waiting: confusion, anxiety, uncertainty.
The song “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” came to my mind this morning as I thought through what it means to wait.
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel
Just as in Isaiah 35, the lyricist focuses on the call for Israel to “rejoice”. Rejoice? In the captivity? IN the waiting? In the confusion, the anxiety, the uncertainty? Rejoice? How do we do that? By focusing on the promise and not the problems. No, we can’t ignore the reality in our lives. But we can choose how we approach difficulty. We can change our outlook to think about the hope of tomorrow and the hope of God making all things new. In fact, even more than hope, we can be a part of what it means to bring that Joy to the earth, to the brokenness of creation and humanity. If we live in a way that rejoices, even in the midst of hardship and waiting, we change the game. We live in a way that encourages others. Perhaps even help them to see that there are things to rejoice about.
How can you wait well today? What does it look like today to rejoice, with all of the things in your life just as they are? Will you rejoice today?
Jennifer has served Delanco Camp as Teen Camp Dean for over a decade. She works as a high school math teacher in New York.