Readings: Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13, Luke 21:25-36
Peace be with you!
I wait … I wait for my personal caregiver to come in the morning. I wait for my muscles to start moving, so I can get out of bed and start my day. I wait for my personal caregiver to make my coffee and breakfast. I wait for my personal caregiver to feed me my breakfast—bite by bite. I wait for my personal caregiver to fill my water bottle, to tie my electric wheelchair, and to drive me to my appointments. I wait for someone to open the door at the gym or the doctor’s office. I wait for someone to have the patience understand what I am saying—what I need, my ideas, my opinion, or my witty sense of humor at that moment in time. I wait for my personal caregiver to come back and take me to run errands, if need be, before going home. I wait for my personal caregiver to make my lunch and to feed me—bite by bite. I wait for my personal caregiver to fill my water bottle again. I wait for my personal caregiver to help me—open mail, send letters, make phone calls, and [whatever “it” is] I need help doing. I wait for my personal caregiver to do my daily chores—make my bed, wash dishes, put dishes away, do my laundry, put my clothes away, feed the dogs, and [whatever “it” is] that needs to be done. I wait for my personal caregiver to leave for the day in order to have a few moments to myself. I wait for my second caregiver to come to make dinner and to feed me—again bite by bite. I wait for my personal caregiver to fill my water bottle again. I wait for my personal caregiver to do or help me with [whatever “it” is] that needs to be done. I wait for my personal caregiver to leave for the night, giving me a few hours alone with my pups before going to bed and waiting for tomorrow to begin.
I am waiting … I am waiting for society to understand I am more than my disability. I am waiting for society to understand I am willing and able to meet the next challenge—not because I aim to inspire others but because I aim to become a stronger and better-rounded individual. I am waiting for society to understand I have dreams, thoughts and opinions, grand ideas, a voice, and a personality. I am waiting for the day when society gives adequate services and help to children and adults with disabilities and their families.
To state the obvious, I am accustomed to waiting. Yet the older I get and the more friends and family members who go on before me, the harder it becomes to wait for Christ’s second coming. With ISIS’s attacks and other violent acts on the rise, one must wonder if the end is really near or if we have to endure more. How much more stress can the earth endure? How much more violence can we endure? The events of the world seem hopeless. We have all struggled with hopelessness. Some people are homeless, naked, and/or hungry, while others struggle with depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Here we find ourselves waiting for the unknown—the fear of not knowing what is coming next.
In the first century, Jews were waiting for the Messiah—the one the Lord promised to send to execute justice and righteousness in the land (Jeremiah 33:15). The Jews were waiting for someone to free them from the oppression of the Romans. Like the Jews, as Christians, we are waiting … We are waiting for Jesus Christ to come again. We are waiting to see Jesus in all his glory. We are waiting for God the Father to have the last word with Satan in the final battle. We are waiting to enter the kingdom of God where there will be no more pain and suffering. Jesus tells his disciples he will come back to redeem them. Jesus gives the disciples signs to look for as a prequel to his second coming:
There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:25-28 NRSV).
Jesus does not promise us that waiting is easy or safe. In fact, it sounds downright scary and difficult. However, there is also hope in knowing Jesus is coming to redeem us and we will enter the kingdom of God. Amy P. McCullough writes, “Hope knows failure. It admits to the vulnerability embedded in the human life. But it trusts God hopes alongside God’s creatures and dares to live under the promise that every part of creation will be gathered back into God’s fold.”[i] When we place our hope in the power of Christ’s resurrection, we can rest assured our biggest huddles will become God’s biggest achievements.
McCullough also writes, “The habit of hope develops as we train ourselves to see what God sees: a wolf lying with the lamb, the desert teaming with flowers, and old bodies bursting with new life.”[ii] I place my hope in God that he will find creative ways to provide for my needs and wants. The Psalmist reminds us to lift up our souls and to trust in God to teach us about his ways and to lead us by his truth (Psalm 25:1-2, 4-5). We are to put our eyes on the ways of God and to follow his paths. Instead of worrying about things of this world, Jesus calls us to be alert to what is promised to come:
Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man (Luke 21:34-36 NRSV).
In all of my waiting, it is easy to worry about the little things: will my personal caregiver show up today, will she help me get my stuff done without complaining, and so on. Instead of worrying, I try to focus on what truly matters. As I wait for my personal caregiver to come in the morning, I take time to pray and mentally organize my thoughts. As I wait to eat, I take time to catch up with what each personal caregiver has going on in her life. As I wait for my water bottle to be filled, I thank God I have access to clean water. As I wait for rides to appointments and to run errands, I appreciate the ability to be independent and the ability to direct my own care. As I wait for [whatever “it” is] to be resolved, I hang on to the hope that Jesus Christ will redeem me, despite my faults, in the last days. Hope does not mean failure is out of the question; however, hope means it will one day be better. As Christians, we place our hope in the Triune God who promises to come back and redeem us once and for all. Until that day, we need to hang onto our hope.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for giving us the promise of Christ’s second coming. Help us to wait for Jesus to come again in his glory. Lead us to express your love to our neighbors. Call upon us to share the good news with anyone with an open heart. Keep us alert to be ready for Christ’s second coming. Thank you for sharing your forgiveness, grace, and love with us. Amen
[i] Amy P. McCullough, “Musings on Advent,” Journal for Preachers XXXIX (Advent 2015): 6.