I don’t know that I have ever loved patience. In fact, for much of my younger life, I thought that patience was stupid. I still – very much – do not like to learn lessons in patience. I need not remind you that since March 13, 2020, we seem to have been in one big lesson in patience. I don’t want to over-simplify a global public health crisis, but one of the largest lessons God seems to me teaching me in all of these things is to wait upon Him. Though the past nine-and-a-half months have not been fun by any stretch of the imagination, the importance of waiting upon the Lord has been sweet to my soul.
“Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. Weeping only lasts for the night. Hold on my child, joy comes in the morning. The darkest hour means dawn is just in sight.” These are more than just the words of Bill and Gloria Gaither; these are words from Psalm 30. These words are part of a precious truth that runs throughout God’s written Word. Since October, I have been meditating upon the various scripture passages that discuss waiting upon the Lord, and though there have been many silver linings in our circumstances since March, one of the most powerful lessons I have learned is the significance of biblical joy. It is not a synonym of “happiness”. To be happy is a fleeting emotion. Joy, as we learn in scripture, is an inner soul-stabilizing force that comes with a personal relationship with our Creator. He alone can give us a joy that remains true regardless of circumstance. It is when we experience joy, even in the midst of acute grief and pain, that we really begin to appreciate the depth and source of a joy that comes from God alone. I believe this also helps us comprehend Paul’s description of a peace “which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).
Forgive me for taking such a tangent on joy – and peace – when I am supposed to be writing about patience, but it’s easy to see how the second, third, and fourth precepts of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) can be so tightly intertwined. Another silver lining I experienced personally in December was a clearing of my calendar. Without many of my normal events, I was able to spend a bit more time reading and praying. A pod cast I listened to just a week before Christmas challenged me with this question ‘is Christmas more about nostalgia for you, or is it more about worship?’ After some careful reflection, I was less than pleased with my answer. I was also challenged by Luke’s question in our bible study on December 16: ‘which was the greater miracle, the resurrection or the incarnation?’ In chewing through this question, we cannot help but to worship the Christ, because He was and is the Creator of the universe!
In these – and other meditations – this Christmas season, I have a new appreciation for the people waiting upon the Lord in the run up to Jesus’ birth. Not only were the faithful waiting upon the Lord as David, and the Prophets, and Moses, and Joshua, and Israel, and Noah, and Abram had; there was a craving desire – a longing – for Him to be with them. O that we might long for the Almighty to draw nearer to us. May we thirst for His presence! It seems to me that leading up to the coming of the Messiah, some rabbi, in some synagogue, in some small Judean town read from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah. As we eagerly, yet patiently, await the day when we can all gather safely again, I leave you with a song lyric inspired by Isaiah 35…
strengthen the feeble hands, and steady the knees that give way.
Say to those with fearful hearts “be strong and not afraid.”
For your God will come; your God will come with a vengeance.
With divine holy fire, your God will come to save you!
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds