Scripture is filled with stories of people who waited. Hannah waited for an unspecified number of years before having her son Samuel. The Israelites waited 70 years in exile before being allowed to return to their homeland. The Jewish people waited hundreds of years for the promised Messiah.
During Advent, we are reminded of the significance and holiness of waiting. All of us carry hopes and desires for our lives: We’re waiting for a relationship to heal, for a wayward child to return to faith, for a baby to arrive in our arms. Some waiting is definite—it has an endpoint. We experience “definite waiting” when we anticipate outcomes that we know will eventually arrive, whether it’s a verdict on a new job, a grade on a final exam, or a wedding day. Although these experiences are often laced with frustrations and the outcomes mixed, the waiting will eventually come to an end.
Mary the mother of Jesus experienced definite waiting when the angel Gabriel announced that she would be “with child.” Although the process was undoubtedly difficult at times, she knew that in nine months, the promised child would put an end to her waiting. Even in her reply to the angel, we hear a level of certainty. “‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ she answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled’” (Luke 1:38).
Some waiting, however, is indefinite.
In my own life, indefinite waiting has come in the form of singleness. For years I’ve prayed to meet a godly man, not only because I desire the kind of love and companionship that marriage brings, but also because I’ve seen how good marriages can make each spouse better able to love, serve, and glorify God. My single years have been a period of waiting without a clear end point, without any promise of a “yes” or even a definitive “no.” At times, I’m filled with hope for the kind of man God may bring into my life and also for what God can do in and through my singleness, but there’s also a desperation mixed in with my hope that I wish I could be rid of.
In the midst of my relational uncertainty, I have read and reread the biblical story of Hannah. She prayed for children for years, saw her husband’s other wife bear children while her own womb remained empty, and then rejoiced when God eventually gave her a “yes” named Samuel. Many years passed between the paragraphs of her praying and the eventual baby. Even the way it’s phrased in the New International Version leaves the timing ambiguous: “So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’” (1 Sam. 1:20). Although her desire eventually came to fruition, nonetheless, Hannah’s story is a reminder of God’s timing and how his plans don’t always match up with our own.
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Source: Christianity Today