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On Waiting Well
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On Waiting Well

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By Molly Flinkman

With every step across my backyard, something cracks beneath my feet. Twigs snap. Leaves crunch. The green grass is spotted with dry, brown patches. I look up at the trees where their branches hang mostly empty, and I can see through their tangles to the blue, cloudless sky above me.

My kids play nearby, still in hats and coats. I follow their laughter to a maple tree that stands on the edge of our yard and put a gloved hand on its bark. Water drips down its sides, which is strange because it hasn’t recently rained. A quick Google search tells me that the ground beneath this maple is softening, and the tree is soaking up water. Since there are not yet buds at the ends of the branches, the excess water comes out the pores of the tree.

Everything is dead around me—brittle to my touch. I’ve been wondering lately if winter will ever end, and now, here in front of me, is the first evidence that spring is indeed at work. It will come just as it always does.

The Israelites understood what it meant to live in a state of perpetual winter. As they moved from Egypt to the Promised Land and were conquered again and again and again, I imagine they, too, wondered if spring would ever come. Jeremiah assured them it would:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’ [1]

The Israelites lived in the tension of holding on to this promise while also, for so many of them, never seeing it play out. I think we can understand this feeling as we live in the center of the “already” and “not yet.”

We know what the Israelites of the Old Testament didn’t: Jesus is the righteous branch. He is the promised new life—the hope of spring after a long winter. He has already come to deal wisely and execute justice and righteousness. He is the Savior of the world. But we live in the “not yet” too.

We understand what Paul meant when he said “the whole creation has been groaning together” [2] because the world around us is filled with difficulty and brokenness. Like the Israelites, we eagerly await the second coming of the Messiah, at which point He will re-establish His perfect kingdom forever.

So we wait in the middle—in between the “already” of the resurrection and the “not yet” of our final restoration. And as we wait, there are three things we would do well to remember.

Our Hope is Secure

As believers, we can trust that God is faithful in everything He says and does. For the Israelites, each one of the good promises the Lord made to them came to pass. [3] The writer of Hebrews re-emphasizes this point when he says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” [4]

Christ was and is and will be the perfect fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation for everyone who believes. Our hope is firm in this certainty. There is no need to doubt.

It Matters How We Wait

The writer of Hebrews doesn’t stop with the assurance that God is faithful. He immediately goes on to say, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” [5]

It matters how we wait. We cannot kick back passively or grumble about how difficult this life is. Jesus is our righteousness, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we are made more like him in our faith—evidenced by how we love God and love others. We wait well when we live in light of this truth.

All Things Work Together for Good

Finally, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” [6] This life is stained by sin and brokenness. It is hard and can be overwhelmingly bleak at times. But we can cling to this promise. Nothing is unredeemable for God, and He will use each of our circumstances, if we let Him, to draw us nearer to Him. He will shape us to be more like Christ, and He will give us minds to look at our lives with an eternal perspective. What a good gift this is.

Spring is Coming

Eventually, the maple tree in my backyard will sprout green buds, and the water from the ground will have somewhere to go. Those buds will turn into leaves, and the tree will be full of green life. Sunshine and warmth will fill our backyard, and my kids will leave their jackets and hats inside when they run into the backyard to play.

The end of winter always feels long and unbearable at times, but what a joy it is to remember that spring is coming. The wait will be over—of this I can be sure.

I pull my hand away from the cold, rough bark of the tree, resolved to wait with a joyful anticipation of all that is to come.

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[1] Jeremiah 23:5-6
[2] Romans 8:22
[3] Joshua 21:45
[4] Hebrews 10:23
[5] Hebrews 10:24-26
[6] Romans 8:28