There are a couple of clips in the Christmas movie classic: It’s A Wonderful Life that has always moved me. In the first clip, we find George Bailey and a young lady, Mary, walking home from a graduation celebration. They both make a wish, but Mary refuses to share her wish with George. Now fast-forward several years, and we find George and Mary married, and she shares, with her new husband, that their marriage was what she had wished for years earlier. Now our wishes may not always turn out as we desire, but God is always working. As Mary had to wait to see, we as believers in Christ often need to wait as well. The big difference is that God may not make every one of our wishes come true, but He is always true to His promises.
Waiting can be so difficult. I don’t think our culture makes waiting any easier. We live in a time of fast food. We have an abundance of information assessable in the palm of our hands with our smartphones. We can connect and interact with people in record speed through technology. We seem to be able to get almost anything we want when we want it, and if we don’t, we get a bit frustrated. Patients may be a virtue, but it is often absent from a culture so accustomed to getting what we want when we want it.
Yes, Waiting can be so difficult. It can even be more difficult to wait when what we are waiting for is so close to our hearts. Like waiting for the baby to be born that we have dreamed of holding in our arms. Or waiting for a relationship to be mended or a wayward child to come home. Or waiting for God to bring a spiritual breakthrough. Yet, David writes: “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord” (Ps 27:14)!
Waiting is nothing new for God’s people. For centuries God’s people had waited for the coming of the Messiah (the Anointed One) to come and save them. Almost a millennium and a half before the arrival of the Messiah, God began to give His people an enormous amount of specific information about the Messiah and His coming. The prophecies about the Messiah were not a bunch of scattered predictions randomly placed throughout the Old Testament, but they form a unified promise-plan of God, where each promise is interrelated and connected into a grand series comprising one continuous plan of God.
In the Gospel of Matthew, written to Jews to point them to Christ their long-awaited Messiah, we read:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matt 1:18-23).
Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled every single one of the prophecies in the Old Testament. The odds of someone doing that who was not the Messiah are beyond the laws of probability and virtually incalculable. In other words, it is impossible. Here’s the point. God is faithful, His faithfulness is seen in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.
Since God is faithful, and we are His children, we are also expected to be faithful. Faithfulness is literally a hallmark of the Christian life. When we look at the birth of Jesus, we understand that His birth is an example of God’s faithfulness to us and that Mary and Joseph exemplify true faithfulness to God. Think about it. When the angel Gabriel tells Mary she is going to give birth to the Messiah, she responds: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). God is faithful to provide the Messiah, and Mary is faithful in delivering Him. When Joseph is told of Mary being pregnant, he seeks to divorce her quietly to protect her, but God speaks to him in a dream. Joseph is told that “Mary will bear a son, and he is to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” How did Joseph respond? When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took Mary as his wife (see: Matt 1:24). God is faithful in providing salvation, and Joseph is faithful in marrying Mary. Joseph and Mary were entrusted by God with the responsibility and blessing of overseeing the childhood of God’s own Son and were faithful in doing so.
God’s promises are true but answered in His way and timing. For hundreds of years, God’s people waited for the Messiah’s birth. For nearly 2,000 years, the church has been awaiting the return of Christ. Each and every one of us is waiting for something. But we can have faith. We need to learn to trustingly wait. God is faithful, and since He is faithful, we, His children, are called to be faithful, and such faithfulness often means trustingly waiting. Perhaps, you are struggling with a lack of faith. Remember, honesty is the first step in the right direction. Be encouraged. God will give you all that you need to learn to trust Him and, yes, to trustingly wait.
It is my honor to experience life in Christ with each of you. Let us remind one another of God’s faithfulness. Let us encourage each other to be faithful to Him0, especially as we trustingly wait. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!