Waiting. One of my least favorite things. From waiting at the dentist’s office to waiting for my husband to come home from work to waiting to see if medication has slowed cancer. Life is full of waiting. Today I am waiting to hear news of a sweet friend on hospice care who mercifully fell asleep last night. We are waiting to hear if she will wake up here or in the presence of Jesus. The waiting feels unbearable.
I am straddling despair and joy. If my friend doesn’t wake up, I will experience the kind of grief that takes your breath away. The grief that comes with a life taken too soon, dreams demolished by illness, the injustice of this broken world choosing my friend to infect. Grief that threatens to steal hope, trample on peace. My cries in the dark of last night were wrought with anger: Enough, God! Enough illness, enough cancer, enough death! When will you put a stop to the suffering? When will you reach out your hand and touch us and heal us?
As I pleaded to God, my mind went to the Psalms where David cried out, too. In fact, the Bible is full—FULL—of hurting people, oppressed people, damaged people, waiting people. People whose hearts were wearier than I’ll ever understand. People who were waiting for their Messiah and had everything and nothing to lose. And when Jesus came, a wrinkled, bruised, bloody baby whose cries startled his young mother out of sleep, begging her to nurse, no one looked at him and thought he was the answer to their groans.
The groans that come from the bottom of our souls, the sounds we make when we don’t have words, the desperateness of our hearts that causes an almost physical pain. The guttural groans that we all have made in seemingly unredeemable brokenness. Answer our groans, Lord. How long must we wait? Do you not see your hurting children?
A baby. How could a baby be the answer? How could a poor, oppressed, Jewish carpenter be the answer? There was no instant relief or defeating of enemies or deliverance from poverty, illness, injustice, slavery, abuse, unkindness. Nothing. There were only a few years of hope followed by a dead man on a cross, killed unjustly in the cruelest manner. It seemed as though God’s promised savior fell flat on his face.
We didn’t know that God’s plan was bigger than our biggest dream. We couldn’t have imagined that Jewish rabbi defeating death! We didn’t know to ask for Jesus to rise from His grave! We couldn’t comprehend God’s very Spirit dwelling in us so that no matter what we face on this earth, we are not alone.
We didn’t know.
This time last year, Kara was in and out of the hospital. I would get a text asking me or my husband to come. And bring the babies. I sat with her hour after hour, sometimes just watching her sleep, sometimes listening to her thoughts, sometimes offering a tissue for her tears. We prayed for Messiah to save her. Deliver her from this cancer! Let her stay here and mother her four young children! Allow her to stay with Jason, her beloved. Allow my friend to stay here and love and be loved, Lord.
We prayed for a miracle until the very end. We prayed for restoration. We got death. And Kara got healing; Kara got life.
If you ask my son, Von, what will happen when he goes to Heaven, he will say, Jesus will touch me and I will be healed. I won’t ever have to do a bubble treatment [nebulizer] again or have itchy spots or a runny nose or boo boos. The faith of this child shouts the gospel at me every day, and somehow I still miss the point. Somehow I still get confused and mistake my dreams for The Best Dreams instead of trusting God’s beautiful, good, healing plan. Yet despite my lack of faith, I will still be blessed; someday we will stand with Kara in glory and we will know that our prayers were answered, that Kara was restored in the most perfect, beautiful way that our minds just couldn’t dream big enough for her.
As much as we talk and dream and read about Heaven, the real deal will heal our hearts in places we didn’t even know were broken.
Messiah will deliver us once and for all. In spite of our doubts and anger and bitterness and disappointment that plunges us toward despair, Messiah will deliver us. He will lift our chins to see his face—a face that shines with Glory—and wipe our tears for the final time.
Until then, we wait. My child, He says. I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me. (John 6:35)
I am straddling despair and joy. Despair is yesterday, joy is tomorrow, waiting is today.
In what ways are you waiting for Messiah? How has He comforted you in your waiting? How can you encourage someone else who is in the agony of waiting?