Following the last words being spoken, the heavy curtains rolled across the stage.
Silence fell heavy like snow. Darkness deep as night.
People walked away. There was nothing more to see here. There was no encore to the drama.
There would be no more words for four hundred years.
God is Working in our Waiting
Four hundred years of silence. Imagine that. No word from God for 400 years. Waiting, hoping, praying that someday this God of words and voice would break through the silence and speak. That once again God would be with this people. Once again they would hear his words and live.
All of us know what waiting is like. We wait for holidays to come or be over. We wait for semesters to end. For unsaved friends and family to find saving faith in Jesus. For a healing to at long last come. For relationships to be restored. For joy to eventually replace sorrow. Or for any other number of things we wait. We are no strangers to waiting in life. We know it well and we know the uncertainty and longing it brings with it.
Advent leads us to more acutely feel the agony of waiting for who knows how much longer. Advent allows for the silence to soak into our bones and be swept into those long years of a quiet God. And while we don’t experience the hopeless longing and bitter questions to a God who had appeared to pull the curtains on his people for four hundred years, we do know the pain of a seemingly silent God. We too know the feelings of hopelessness and the bitter questions that creep into our souls like a damp, chilly morning. Unwanted but unable to shake them off.
We struggle to see how God could possibly be working in our waiting. And if so, hasn’t it been long enough already?
Our finite minds are wrapped up in time, but God is not bound to time like we are. A thousand of our days are as one day to him (Ps. 90:4, 1 Pet. 3:8). This is a grace to us, who wait and long. He will accomplish all of his purposes and will complete everything he begins—even if we wait our entire lifetimes for it (Ps. 138:8, Phil. 1:6, 1 Cor. 13:12).
We wait, but we can wait with hope, because after four hundred years, our Savior came. In the early days, God spoke by his prophets, but in the last days, he spoke by his Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Jesus was a waiting that was worth every second of every year. When Simeon and Anna beheld him as a new baby, they simply rejoiced and praised God (Luke 2:25-38). The wait was over. They were ready to die. Life had come.
My Soul, Put Your Hope in God…My Help is from Him
Not only does God work in our waiting, but waiting in silence before him is good for our souls. In the midst of a turmoil-filled life, the psalmist wrote these words to his soul, “My soul, wait only for God, for all my hope is from him” (Ps. 62:5). Just a few psalms prior to these words, we hear him saying, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Do not fret…” (Ps. 37:7).
David also recognized that even in the waiting, in the darkness, his hope was only to be found in God. He questioned his soul, “Why are you so discouraged?” and answered it by telling it to put its hope in God (Ps. 42:11). When our minds are anguished, our lives are fragmented and crushed, and our hearts feel trampled on the dirt beneath our feet, we would do well to ask ourselves the same question, “Soul, why are you so discouraged? Put your hope in God.”
Not only is Christ the only place we can find real, deep, lasting hope, but all of our help comes from him (Ps. 121:2. Rather than being anxious about our lives and the circumstances we find ourselves in, we should, instead, take our troubled hearts to our Savior who told us to not be anxious and come to him (Matt. 6:25-34; 11:28-30). In our seasons of uncertainty and waiting, our help is not going to come from within ourselves, as though we could just try harder to make things happen or turn out as we would wish. Nor will our help be found in external things (Ps. 20:7). Rather, real help is going to be found in Jesus.
Waiting in silence before our kind Savior is good for our souls, as it helps us realize our desperate need for him. But waiting and worrying will eat us up from the inside-out, if we wait apart from Jesus. Peter told his readers to throw all of their anxieties on Jesus, “because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7) and Paul said something very similar in his letter to the Philippian believers, “do not be anxious about anything” but bring your requests to God in prayer (Phil. 4:6-7).
With Jesus, we will never find empty hope or weak help. And although our seasons of waiting may feel more like dying, in the end (whether in this life or in the one to come), we will see that Jesus was always the answer to every last one of our longings. And we will rejoice and worship God with “joy unspeakable and full of glory” for working in our waiting for his ultimate glory and our deepest joy in him (1 Pet. 1:8). This God who came for us, who is called Immanuel, is strong enough to help us, is deep enough for our greatest hopes, and is worth waiting for him to speak and break into our lives.
My soul, put your trust in Jesus. All of your hope is in this One.
My soul, wait in silence before Jesus. All of your help is in him.