Active Waiting: Expectant Worship
In a season regularly portrayed as “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” it is hard to imagine that for many people this is a season full of brokenness, loneliness, and unmet expectations. Every box, sign, and commercial has all the common phrases we are used to seeing and hearing, which happen to all be about, joy, happiness, and positive vibes. Yet for some of us, this is the first Christmas without a loved one, another Christmas that we are struggling with being single, or a Christmas that is being drowned out by the brokenness of sin in and around our lives. While the encouragement of our Advent series has been to, “Find your Treasure in Jesus,” there are many of us that are wondering how Jesus can become our treasure in the midst of our situation. Some of us may even be saying to ourselves, “I’ve been trying to treasure Jesus, but nothing has changed.” You may have stumbled upon this blog and you don’t feel the joy, hope, or peace that you want to feel this Christmas.
Well, to those who are weary, burdened, suffering, and tired of trying I believe that this passage has good and challenging news for you.
Patience Precedes Treasure
As we see in the story of Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:22-38), sometimes the Lord answers our prayers and longings with a resounding, “Wait.” In a world of one day shipping, google searches, and instant results, this is probably one of the most disheartening words we can hear from God. Placed in a similar situation Simeon and Anna did not grow weary of waiting but recognized that patience preceded their ultimate treasure. In other words, their treasure was on the horizon, but there was a necessary waiting that needed to take place before they received their ultimate treasure, “The consolation of Israel.” If you are in one of these seasons of life you may need to be reminded that just because peace, or joy doesn’t exist in the present doesn’t mean that it won’t exist after some patience. As we are reminded of in the passage, the length of time in which God waits to give us the treasure of our heart is not an indictment of our lack of faithfulness, as Simeon and Anna were both unbelievably faithful, but simply as a matter of God’s timing.
Patience Produces Treasure
Secondly, we learn from Simeon and Anna that patience is not passive. Patience is not simply waiting on the sidelines for the coach to finally put you in the game, but it is actively praying, practicing, and participating in the production of treasure in our hearts. One could call this “Active Waiting.” In Luke 2:37 it says concerning Anna that, “She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Instead of anxiously waiting for the treasure of her heart, as we often do, she actively waited by participating in around the clock worship through prayer, fasting, and going to the temple. It is these acts of worship that helped to produce a heart inside of Anna that was already treasuring Jesus, before she had seen the ultimate prize. And this should be our encouragement as well: Waiting often produces in us the very treasure we are longing for. I charge you this Christmas Eve to worship in your waiting, whatever the circumstance may be, because the process may produce the treasure you are longing for.
Patience Predicts Treasure
Finally, we learn from Simeon and Anna that we can be patient because we know the future. Like Simeon we have been given a guarantee by God about the future. For Simeon it was guaranteed to him that, “he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ” (Luke 2:26). For us it is guaranteed that in Christ that we have the ultimate victory and hope: King Jesus, the true Israel, has accomplished the mission we failed to achieve, died the death that we deserved, and rose again defeating sin and death, promising new life in Christ and adoption into the eternal and royal family of God to which we, through the Holy Spirit, will take part in restoring that which was once broken alongside our King and Redeemer until he comes back again to right every wrong and restore all of creation. This is our guarantee as Christians, and just like Simeon the promise of seeing the Christ child, and realizing our future hope, is going to happen, just not yet. In the meantime, as we wait for that glorious day we can be confident in our patience because our future in a guarantee. Just like a weatherman who has a guarantee that it will snow in the upcoming week, hopeful patience predicts not just the weather to come, but the treasure that is on the horizon in our lives and reminds us that our hope is not only in the future, but it is hope that is present and alive. The guarantee that he would see Jesus gave Simeon the ability to wait and worship expectantly, knowing that he would not die before seeing the Christ child. And for us, amidst pain, suffering, and loss it gives us the ability to worship in our waiting, and know that even if we don’t see things happen in the timing that we would want, we have a future that is guaranteed and sealed in our hearts.
21 And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Merry Christmas Redeemer!!!