By Stephanie Evelyn McKellar

Abraham and Sarah wait 25 years for the promise of a child.
David waits 15 years for the promise of a kingdom and throne.
The Israelites wait 400 years for God to speak again.
Zechariah and Elizabeth wait their entire lives for the chance to be parents.
The Jewish people wait (and walk) 40 years to arrive at their "promised" destination.
The creation waits, groaning in eager expectation for a state of healing and harmony to be fully embodied.

I struggle to wait well.

I admit with a bit of shame that I appreciate that I can reserve a spot at the DMV or doctor’s office and arrive when my appointment begins. I admit that I grow impatient in traffic, in the grocery store line, or when something in general takes longer than I expected. I admit I often jump at the option for an express lane in traffic, and that I struggle when the internet signal slows or ceases entirely.

I long to be there, to be done, to be moving on to the next thing. I love to be distracted, busy, engaged in a task.

Waiting can feel like wasting time.
Waiting can feel like an exercise in futility.

Waiting often involves staring into the face of the unknown, hoping for something that has not yet been realized.

Creation waits, hoping for healing.
The oppressed wait, hoping for release from systems of power and profit that enslave them.  
The refugee and dreamer wait, hoping for a space to call home.
Children wait, and work, hoping for gun reform that makes schools safe again.
Citizens wait, and work, hoping for leadership that advocates towards their best interest.
Parents wait, and work, hoping their investment in their children is molding healthy and brave human beings.

Waiting begs our attention to our internal space,
Imposing upon us a fast from gratification,
And beckoning us to attend more deeply to the present moment and movement.

Waiting reveals what we carry within us,
and waiting destabilizes our internal sense of control.

Waiting can shape, sharpen, and make us more sensitive to that which sustains us.

In their waiting, Abraham and Sarah become more attuned to the voice of God, and become the ancestors of Israel. David learns the political and social culture of the kingdom he’ll lead. The Israelites learn (over and over) to empathize with the exiled, a perspective that equips and invites them to become holy hosts and a blessing to all people, and to embrace an upside-down understanding of power. Zechariah and Elizabeth become parents to an odd and revolutionary John the Baptist.

For the privileged, waiting beckons our responsibility.
We not only wait, but we work, actively pursuing a realized hope of freedom, redemption, and justice.

Waiting can be an incubator of character,
While we wait we can learn to walk with the God who not only has, but will continue to
and sustain,
us and all of creation.

In waiting, God may become known, as a
sanctuary, a rock upon which foundation is built, a hope upon which to stand,
host, providing along the journey,
guide and companion, leading along the darkened path,
redeemer, advocating for the healing and harmony of all creatures and creation.

In the waiting, may we learn to walk and work—for
how we wait determines where we will arrive.
May our waiting shape us into the people God is inviting us to become.

Scripture references:

  • Genesis 12; 21

  • 1 Samuel 16; 2 Samuel 5:4

  • Jesus is born roughly 400 years after the events of the post-exilic book, Malachi.

  • Luke 1

  • Amos 2:10; Nehemiah 9:21; Acts 7:36

  • Romans 8:19

A Lenten Blessing:

 May the blessing of lament bring you rest, and may you find strength in knowing that God inhabits your sorrow.