In the Waiting Room: An Advent Lesson

"...we wait; and hope appears if we truly desire to see it." Anne Lamott

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Waiting. Waiting at the bus stop. Waiting in the checkout line. Waiting for a website to load.

There are waiting rooms and we tell our children to wait just a minute. At the end of a life, we are just waiting for someone's fight to end. Restaurants have waiters, and we always seem to be waiting on them. There are families who wait years to adopt. We wait for news: good and bad.

We're always waiting.

We're supposed to wait thirty minutes after eating before we swim. We wait through multiple previews for our movie to start. Waiting on the big game causes all sorts of excitement and waiting on the pizza delivery guy can be one grueling wait.

There's a song about "Waitin' on a Woman" and one called "Waiting on the World to Change".

It never gets better. We spend much of our lives waiting.

The world is groaning with expectancy. Because really, we are all waiting for salvation. We label ourselves as believers, atheists, agnostics, and everything in between, but no matter the conviction or cause, we share a deep longing to be delivered.

But being delivered isn't a fairytale. Nor is it a journey for the weak at heart or the weak-stomached. I'll never forget walking back into the delivery room after my wife received her spinal block. My son was on the way. I was proud and excited and anxious but I was not prepared for the sights and sounds of the delivery room. I remember the doctor asking if I wanted to help and for the first thirty minutes or more, I opted to stand at the head of the hospital bed, offering encouragement and letting my wife nearly squeeze my hand numb.

Waiting for a baby may be the worst wait of all.

The delivery room gets awfully messy. It's sweaty and crowded and there's blood and excess. Deliverance isn't for lightweights. Eventually, the doctor coaxed me into holding my wife's left ankle as she grunted and pushed, my mother-in-law holding the other. Before long we could see the baby's head as he began to crown. My anxiety turned to fascination and before I knew it, I was right there, hoping not to blink. My future was colliding into my life. I didn't want to miss it.

Delivery is not serene. There's no quiet, universal stillness, a sacred space where all is well. Delivery doesn't look like a sleeping newborn with a smile. Peace doesn't always feel like cotton candy and Louis Armstrong singing, "What a Wonderful World". Delivery is voices of loved ones and strangers. Stand here. Do that. Breathe deep. Hold your breath. Push. Lots of instructions and you better have your game face on because this is not child's play.

After delivery, there's peace. Peace is an assurance that in the midst of hell breaking loose around, God still remains. In a time where blacks hate whites and straights hate gays and American politics are a circus, the peace of God is where I find the courage to get up and try again tomorrow.

We were guaranteed struggles in this life by the Author of the whole thing. The world is groaning under the pressure of it all. But peace is on the other side.

Peace to you, today, friend. Wherever you are. Whatever your struggles. Deep as your pain may be. The peace of God doesn't annihilate suffering, it simply walks with us through the midst of our experiences. Thinking about the thing that has brought me through life's hard times: the peace of God. "My peace, I give to you," is what He said.

Advent is a season to celebrate waiting. For me, Advent is a corporate acknowledgement that we cannot deliver ourselves. We recognize our lack. We honor our wait for deliverance from our grief and groaning, but we wait with hope because we already know Goodness is on the other side. And as we expectantly wait for deliverance, we also celebrate God remaining present with us through every facet of the human experience.

So we push through. We support one another, we cheer one another on in each victory and we love one another through the times of loss and discomfort and discouragement.

We wait. But we wait together.