Hope Deferred: Waiting On Jesus

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I saw this on Tumblr tonight and my soul sank, lead-full of empathy.

The darkest moments of my life have been the hopeless ones, the times I decided tomorrow wasn’t enough, the times I gave up on a future I couldn’t imagine ever blooming into present…

The only doubt I’ve ever experienced is this doubt—the feeling that maybe I’m waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.

That maybe Christ is standing me up.

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When I was ten years old, two girls in my fourth grade class invited me to go to the movies. I’d never, in my entire life, ever been to the movies with friends. These girls weren’t friends exactly. They were better than friends; they were popular.

I went home, put on my favorite denim vest and jeans, curled my bangs, applied a bottle of hairspray and sat on my grandmother’s hibiscus print couch in the living room, my hands on my knees, my back straight, the curtains pulled from the window so I could watch the street.

My memories of that night are the colors of sunset, first golden, then pink, then purple, then gray. I remember my mother tenderly turning on the lamp by my side, its light cutting a path across the brown shag floor.

I didn’t move from the third couch cushion for three hours. The girls never came, but I waited until my mom called me to bed.

That night on the couch I waited for something that would never come; I watched a robust and sure hope dissolve into crushing despair.

It wasn’t my first taste of that bitter fruit and it wouldn’t be my last.

Sometimes I feel that way while I’m waiting for God, like I’m looking out a window, down an empty street as the sun sets on my hope.

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Christians are a waiting people.

Our eager anticipation of something to come defines us and drives us.

Jude writes, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

Paul says to Titus, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

James: “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

I look at those people in the first century, so sure he’d be back any moment, and  I want that kind of hope, that kind of right-around-the-corner certainty. But I have two thousand years between me and them and those years dull the clarity that came from Christ-proximity.

I’ve never seen Jesus; so when I imagine Him returning I can’t see His face or hear the tenor of His voice.

Too, I’ve been waiting longer than they did. I bear the burden of a hope deferred for generations.

I have devoted my entire life to waiting. And if the thing I’m banking on doesn’t happen, it will all have been a waste.

"If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."

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I’m sitting here staring at a blinking cursor, wondering how to transition…

I want to explain that while hope in Christ is hard and always a risk, it’s good hard and the most exciting, least risky risk of them all.

I want to tell you that even on the nights I’m looking out the window, or the mornings when it all seems to good to be true, I refuse to give up on my God and the reality of rescue.

I have never been more sure of anything in my life than I am of the second coming of Jesus.

I don’t know what Jesus looked like when He lived here on earth, but I know Him. I’ve walked beside Him and I’ve memorized His words and I’ve followed Him up and down mountains and across deserts and beside still waters. And I trust Him to keep His promise.

I’ve waited a long time, sure, longer than makes logical sense. But in my waiting I’ve been carried, fed, healed, loved, led. We Christians wait wading in words of love and promise, assertions of God’s faithfulness to His pilgrim people.

Waiting on God has been nothing like that lonely wait on my couch years ago.

Waiting on God looks like a long meal with friends. No, the food isn’t anywhere near as good as the food’ll be with God, and no, the company’s not as great either. But I’ve never had dinner with God, not exactly, so this meal will do just fine until that one comes. I will be fed and I will be loved. I will have shoulders to cry on and hands to hold, voices speaking words of hope.

The waiting, far from lonely, is bearable, because I’m waiting for something that IS going to happen..

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure." (Heb 6:19)

God proclaims, “Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.”

I know God keeps His promises.

So I hope. And I pray…

Come, Lord Jesus. Quickly.