Every so often we find ourselves waiting without any idea of how long we will wait or what the outcome will be. Perhaps your adult son or daughter is estranged from you. While you pray continually, you don’t know when or how that relationship will be reconciled. Maybe you are waiting for medical test results. The hours turn into days, and you yearn for a good outcome.
We are not the only ones waiting. Recently I had dinner with my youngest son’s college friend, Emmanuel. Emmanuel’s parents had fled their native Rwanda due to the 1994 genocide, and he was born in Tanzania. He, his brother, and his parents waited there in a refugee camp for resolution. They were like millions of other refugees in our world today, waiting and depending upon decision makers far away to determine their future. In Emmanuel’s case, after many years of waiting, the family ended up in Boise, Idaho. From there, Emmanuel found Trinity Christian College.
More than 20 years ago, Paul Caldwell and Sean Ivory composed a choral piece titled “Hope for Resolution” (you can find it on YouTube). It begins with a splendid arrangement of the centuries-old hymn “Of the Father’s Love Begotten”and weaves in the South African song “Thula Sizwe (Nation, Do Not Cry.”The result is a compelling piece of music that expresses the longing of an oppressed people as they wait for resolution in the context of God’s abiding love.
Old Testament Israel also waited. In their waiting for a savior, they oftentimes misconstrued the promises they had been given and even forsook God for the idols of their neighbors. That’s our challenge as well. The Savior has come and is coming again. In our foolishness, as we wait for this return, we often put our sights on the material idols of our day.
Whether oppressed or tempted, whether waiting for a homecoming or for test results, we need instead to put ourselves in the hands of God’s abiding love. Today, as we enter the time of Advent—the time of waiting—let’s encourage each other to put ourselves, our concerns and hurts, and our unresolved hopes and dreams into God’s hands and experience the love that makes the wounded whole.
One last thought: what a beautiful reminder of God’s abiding love it is to know that parents waiting in a refugee camp knew God’s love so intimately that they named their son Emmanuel—God with us!