Sometimes I wonder what was in Mary’s mind as she traveled the dusty road toward Bethlehem. For me, those last days before my children’s births were always marked by a deep settling into myself. It was as if I had drawn an invisible circle around myself and my child, narrowing my attention to the subtle signs that told me the waiting was over and the moment of birth was near. What was it like for Mary to know that the season of waiting was almost over—both for her and for all those who had longed for the Messiah’s birth?
At its heart, Advent is the season of anticipation and waiting. Advent reminds us of all those who waited for Christ’s coming. Eve longed for the Curse-breaker, and Sarah waited for a promise fulfilled. Rahab yearned for a new beginning; Ruth looked for a redeemer. The world waited for the moment when the Creator would draw aside the veil of eternity and step into His creation, reclaiming the world for His own.
Few recognized the moment for what it was. Caesar slumbered in his palace, blissfully unaware that the King of Kings lay in a manger filled with hay. But as shepherds gathered round, angels sang, and a star shone bright overhead, Mary stored up all these things in her heart. Her waiting had led to a birth.
Advent reminds us that we still wait. We live in the moment between the birth of Christ and the birth of the new creation, both celebrating that Christ has come and anticipating that Christ is coming. The sufferings of our present time are but birth pangs, signaling us that the miracle lies ahead. When death is defeated and every tear is wiped away, we will dwell as we were meant to from the beginning: in God’s presence and as God’s people for all eternity.
This then is the great message of Advent: waiting always leads to a birth. That birth may be different than we imagined. (Does any woman ever picture giving birth to her first child in a stable?) Yet waiting is not forever. God is with us, and God will come to us. Our waiting has an end because Christ has already written the end of our story—and our story ends in victory.
This Advent may find you in your own season of waiting. If so, know this: your waiting will not be forever. Christ has come, Christ is coming, and Christ will come to you. Don’t lose hope. Keep moving forward and look for the places Christ has already come. Your season of waiting will end. What might God birth in you?
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