There’s something about waiting that tends to bring out our impatience. Remember what it was like waiting for Christmas as a child? It seemed like the more you focused on it, the longer it took to arrive!
But there is also something about waiting that can bring out the joy of anticipation. I love watching the excitement of our grandchildren at Christmastime. And it’s not just the anticipation of receiving presents. Since our own children were small, Terrie has baked a birthday cake for Jesus each Christmas, and we celebrate His birthday as a family. There is something pure and wholesome in the wonder of a child over the Christmas story that stirs my heart.
Yet, so often we find ourselves waiting not just for a single holiday to arrive, but for God’s intervention in weightier matters. Perhaps this season finds you waiting on health test results or for God’s answers to prayer for a wayward child. Maybe you need God’s provision for financial needs or His sustaining grace for long-term burdens. Perhaps you are waiting on God’s direction for your future.
Waiting for Jesus
In the days leading to Christmas, I often wonder what it was like for Joseph and Mary as they anticipated Christ’s birth. They knew Mary was about to give birth to the very Son of God. They must have waited for His birth with extreme anticipation. At the same time, they faced obvious difficulties. There were the logistical challenges of having no home or regular dwelling in which to give birth, and they likely faced misunderstanding and ostracization from family and friends.
What Joseph and Mary didn’t know, however, was that in Jerusalem, just four miles from Bethlehem, there was another man anticipating the birth of Christ. He was not, as were so many other Jews of his day, simply looking for a political deliverer. He had a genuine anticipation and yearning for the “consolation of Israel.”
His name was Simeon, and he waited in the Temple. It would be some days after Christ’s birth when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple to dedicate Him to the Lord that they met Simeon.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. (Luke 2:27–32)
As Simeon, Joseph, and Mary waited for Jesus’ coming and then welcomed Him to our world, they didn’t understand that this would be the first of two comings to Earth by Christ. We, however, know this and wait for Christ’s Second Coming.
In fact, whatever else you and I may be waiting for during this season, we have the glad assurance that when Jesus comes the second time, all things will be made new. So, while we wait for the more immediate needs of God’s intervention in this current season, we are reminded that our ultimate hope is the eminent return of Christ.
Meanwhile, what should we do while we wait? Luke 2 gives us three important details about Simeon that can direct our waiting as well.
And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:25–26)
1. Hope in God’s Word
The Holy Spirit had revealed to to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the Messiah. How this promise must have bolstered Simeon’s faith! It may have even been what led him to spend his aging years serving in the Temple.
You and I also have revelation given to us by the Holy Spirit. It is even recorded for us in writing.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (2 Timothy 3:16)
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises… (2 Peter 1:4)
How these promises should bolster our faith!
Whatever you are waiting for, I encourage you to remember God’s promises and focus your hope on the God who made them.In times of waiting, remember God’s written promises and focus your hope on the God who made them. Click To Tweet
2. Watch for His Coming
What would we think of Simeon if he knew that he would see Christ but didn’t watch for Him? What if he spent his days just assuming that since the Holy Spirit had promised he would see Christ, it would happen somehow or another and that there was no need for him to actively engage in watching for Christ?
Titus 2 tells us that we are to be actively looking for Christ’s appearance.
Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; (Titus 2:13)
Waiting on God—for His return or for His intervention in our needs—is not passive. It is to call forth our active focus on the Lord and service for Him.Waiting on God is not passive. It is to call forth our active focus on the Lord and service for Him. Click To Tweet
I like G. Campbell Morgan’s comment along these lines.
Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.”—G. Campbell Morgan
Are you actively serving as you wait?
3. Walk in the Spirit
The Bible specifically tells us of Simeon that “the Holy Ghost was upon him.” In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell believers as He does now. Rather, He would, at times, come as a divine anointing on certain individuals to give revelation or empowerment. Simeon was a spiritually-minded man who was focused on serving the Lord in this time of waiting. In fact, the Bible specifically tells us in Luke 2:27 that “he came by the Spirit into the temple.”
Today, those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior have received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who seals us (Ephesians 1:12). But that doesn’t mean we’re daily living as spiritually-minded, Christward-focused people. For this reason, we are specifically instructed to walk in the Spirit.
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:16–17)
We are to daily follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit through His Word and His prompting in our lives.
The word walk points to the incremental and repetitive nature of these choices. It’s not so much the great moments of surrender that define our faith as it is the consistent choices on a daily basis to yield to the Holy Spirit.It’s not so much the great moments of surrender that define our faith as it is the consistent choices on a daily basis to yield to the Holy Spirit. Click To Tweet
When we’re in a season of waiting, we’re often looking for a big breakthrough or sudden answer. But while we wait, God calls us to walk—one step at a time in obedience to Him.
Looking forward with Anticipation
Simeon’s introduction to Christ, there in Jerusalem in the days after Christmas, is an important reminder to us as we enter a new year. Let us not simply “move on” from Christmas and enter the new year full of ourselves and impatiently focused on our plans.
May we instead learn from Simeon to enter this new year hoping in God’s Word, watching for His coming, and walking in His Spirit. These three simple activities—all which can be done while wait—can shape the direction of the coming year!