Advent: Waiting

December 6, 2015

Gen. 8:10 – 12
“He (Noah) waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.”

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
We all wait at some time in our lives. Sometimes we wait for traffic. Maybe you spend time waiting for teenagers to come home or a baby to stop crying. These are short term waits. They are irritating but in reality, you know the wait will end relatively quickly.

There are other kinds of waiting that happen to all of us at one time or another. These are long term waits. They can make us weary. We wait as we watch a loved one struggle with cancer. We wallow in grief that no one else understands. We wait for a job opportunity to become reality so we can support our family; we wait for a child to turn towards God as the source of truth rather than looking to the world to meet his/her needs. These kinds of waiting are draining. They seem to pull us under, wanting to drown us. This kind of waiting makes us feel hopeless and helpless.

I believe Noah’s waiting in Genesis 8 was similar to this type of gut-wrenching waiting. He was waiting in the midst of a long term storm and he had no idea when this challenging time in his life would end. Life as he had known it was finished. Everyone he knew except his family had died. Flood waters had destroyed everything familiar to him. He was surrounded by a zoo-full of animals that were stinky and noisy. I am confident that Noah’s perspective and his faith in God helped him get through this challenging time.

Sometimes we gloss over this remarkable event in the Bible. We know the ending, so we don’t focus on the faithful journey that Noah and his family traveled. The Bible tells us that “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (Gen. 6: 9b). My Bible footnote emphasizes that this was true, although it does not imply that Noah’s life was without sin.

This gives us insight into Noah’s perspective. His life shows his obedience to God, even in challenging times and this period of waiting was no different. He remained faithful, having assurance that God would lead him and care for him, no matter what the future held. Noah knew he belonged to God.

I am sure there were times that Noah was weary. But when we look at Noah’s life, we can see glimpses of Hope. God established his covenant with Noah (Gen. 6: 18). We see how Noah was faithful to God in building the ark, and God kept him and his family safe. When Noah sent out the dove and it brought back an olive branch, Noah must have rejoiced. I can only imagine the hope he felt in his heart, knowing that God was faithful and having the assurance that God would provide.

When I face challenges and am in the midst of one of life’s storms, I can look at Noah’s life and have hope while I wait. I know I belong to God. Hope might come as a word of encouragement. It might be a scripture that speaks to me or a song that encourages me to be faithful. It might be a beautiful sunrise or sunset that reminds me that God holds all things in his hands. Sometimes it requires me to look back over my life and remember God’s faithfulness during challenging times. I can be assured that even in times of waiting, God is present and God is working.

Advent is a season of waiting. A time of remembering Christ’s first coming and a time of looking forward to Christ’s return. It can be a season filled with joy and hope or a season of stress and being overwhelmed. Whatever your present season of life is, know that you are not alone. God is faithful and we can trust him to see us through life’s journey.

Some passages that encourage me when I am waiting:
The book of Ruth
Psalm 27
Romans 12
I Thessalonians 5:16–18
Philippians 4

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