by Alexa Hess
I don’t consider myself to be a patient person. I get frustrated if the item I want to order on Amazon won’t get to me in two days. I’m bothered if the line to the grocery checkout is almost down to the food aisle. I have to push down irritation when traffic builds up on the highway.
I don’t like waiting.
When was the last time you waited for something? What were you waiting for? What emotions did you feel? In my opinion, waiting feels better when the object you’re waiting for is a delight. If you’re stuck waiting in line to get on an airplane, you might not care as much because you know the airplane will touch down at your vacation destination. I’m not a mother, but I’m sure carrying a little one feels worthwhile because you know you will eventually hold your baby in your arms. The future delight is with the present waiting.
Advent is a season of waiting, a waiting that involves joyful anticipation. The word advent means “coming” and the season anticipates the coming of Jesus celebrated at Christmas. Advent officially started yesterday, and even if you don’t usually celebrate Advent, I encourage you to embrace this season of waiting. Advent teaches us that waiting is a gift, for this season of waiting yields, amongst many other things, the gift of slowing down and perseverance.
Advent teaches us to slow down
Sometimes waiting feels like time has slowed down, which may be why it’s so easy to become impatient. But there’s actually something beautiful about time slowing down. Often, we can be people who move from one thing to the next, always on the move. When we live in constant motion, we can prevent our hearts and minds from contemplation. It can be hard for us to be still, but when we allow ourselves to stop, we give ourselves the opportunity to sit and reflect.
Think about what you tend to do when you have to wait. For me, I grab my phone. I convince myself that the waiting will feel better and go by faster if I scroll on Instagram or watch a Youtube video. Yet, picking up my phone keeps me from slowing my mind. I keep myself from processing my thoughts and preparing my heart for my day as I fill my time with mindless scrolling. The Lord gives us moments throughout our day to wait, and these moments are actually a gift.
Moments of waiting are opportunities to slow down and be still. Therefore, Advent is a season to slow down. Christmas is coming, but it isn’t here yet. So instead of rushing to get our Christmas gift list all checked off or hurrying through the days to get to Christmas, we can allow ourselves to slow down. We can take moments throughout our day for reflection and contemplation, thinking about what, or rather whom the Christmas season is about. We can even place ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites thousands of years ago who were waiting for the arrival of the Savior. They prepared their hearts for His coming, and so can we as we use the Advent season to draw near to God’s Word and come to the Lord in prayer. Waited time is not wasted time, so let us take the opportunity Advent brings to slow down and meditate on the gift of Christ’s coming.
Advent teaches us perseverance
Looking ahead to what you are waiting for fuels your perseverance as you wait. For example, knowing that the arrival of your best friend is two weeks away helps you to persevere in the moments in between. In the Old Testament, God helped the Israelites to persevere by giving them prophecies of the coming Savior. He did this to instill hope in their hearts for the future as they dealt with hard and painful experiences in the present. When they found their hope waning, they could remind themselves of the arrival of the promised Savior who would bring lasting restoration.
Our Savior, Jesus Christ, has come, but there is a Second Advent when Christ will return to bring about lasting restoration. The advent season reminds us that Jesus has come, but it also helps us to anticipate the day Jesus will come again. And just like the Israelites, Christ’s future coming helps to motivate us in the present. As we look ahead, we are reminded that the hardships of our lives are temporary. We wait for the day of Christ’s return with hope, knowing that this broken world is not our eternal home because one day the Prince of Peace will come again to make all things new. The advent season reminds us that just like the Israelites persevered as they waited for the Savior, so can we persevere as we wait for our Savior to return. Though the present can be hard and weary, advent encourages us to look ahead and rest in the coming of our Savior.
I hope and pray that you will consider embracing the season of Advent this year. We have several Advent resources in our shop that can help you make this Advent season intentional and meaningful. The advent season can teach us much, so I encourage you to take up this season of waiting and allow it to foster joyful anticipation for our sweet Savior.