Note: This is the seventh in a series of posts on Healing for the Holidays. Read Part 1: A Promise, Part 2: Give Sorrow Words, Part 3: Q/A About Holiday Honesty, Part 4: A Lament for Your Loss, Part 5: Tidings of Comfort and Joy, and Part 6: All I Want for Christmas Is Hope.
The Day of Waiting
One of the hardest parts of healing for the holidays is the waiting. Everyone else is waiting with joyful anticipation — for the family reunion, the big dinner, opening of presents. And we’re just waiting for it all to be over. So we can get back to “normal” — whatever that is — since our loss. That’s normal and natural — we want to survive the holidays.
What’s supernatural? What type of spiritual waiting could lead eventually to thriving even during the holidays? To healing?
Tony Compolo preaches a message where he repeatedly says, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin’.” He’s focusing his audience on Friday-truth: the crucifixion of Christ, and on Sunday-truth: the coming resurrection of Christ. I would change the metaphor a tad because we aren’t living on Friday, we’re living on Saturday. Symbolically, life lived on fallen planet Earth is Saturday living — the day between the crucifixion and the resurrection. The day of waiting. The day that tests our trust.
You’ll never see waiting as one of the grief stages in any research study because it is not natural in a fallen world. It is supernatural. Hope waits. Hope is the refusal to demand heaven now. Waiting is trusting God’s future provision without working to provide for myself. Waiting is refusing to take over while refusing to give up. Waiting refuses self-rescue.
In the context of grief, waiting says, “I want to feel better. I wish things were the way they once were. But I trust God’s good heart. I know one day He will wipe away all tears. I know today He has good plans for my life ahead.”
Remembering the Future
Waiting is rooted in the Old Testament. The Prophets promised Israel that a better day was coming, later. The New Testament writers develop the waiting theme when they urge us toward patience, perseverance, longsuffering, and remaining under suffering without giving in to despair (Romans 5; James 1; 1 Peter 1-2; and Hebrews 11). The Bible teaches us that in waiting we cling to God’s rope of hope, even when we can’t see it.
Moses teaches that we cling to God’s rope of hope by remembering the future.
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26).
No quick fix for Moses. No “Turkish Delight” from the White Witch of Narnia. No pleasures of sin for a season. Why? How could he wait? He chose eternal pleasure over temporal happiness. He remembered the future.
Faith looks back to the past recalling God’s mighty works saying, “He did it that time; He can do it now.” Hope looks ahead remembering God’s coming reward saying, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Romans 8:18-19).
Your Waiting Journey and Journal
1. Faith—Remember the Past: Think back to a time when God brought hope, joy, newness, and resurrection into your life after a loss.
- What did God use to bring about your spiritual victory?
- How did you wait on God by clinging to His rope of hope even when you couldn’t see it?
- How did you begin to see God differently? How did you begin to experience more of His goodness? How were you able to love Him more deeply?
- As you found His strength in your weakness, what was God able to do through you?
2. Love—Face the Present: God’s timing and ours are often light years apart.
- What are you experiencing as you wait on God?
- What would it look like for you to rest in God right now?
- Explore passages like Romans 5; James 1; 1 Peter 1, and Hebrews 11 that teach how to wait on God in the midst of suffering. Paraphrase their message for your life today.
- Find a trusted, safe friend and take the step of sharing with him or her about your hopes and dreams.
3. Hope—Remember the Future: Hope waits.
- What are you waiting on God for? How are you trusting God’s future provision?
- Paul considered that his present sufferings were not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18-19). What future glory are you focusing on?
- Read Revelation 7. How do these pictures of your future hope give you hope today?
The Rest of the Story
Healing hope does not mean we pretend everything is fine. Instead, in our next post we’ll learn that thriving at the holidays means being pregnant with hope. Think about that — the pain of the pregnancy is there, but so is the joyful anticipation of the birth of new life.
Join the Conversation
What does it look like for you to cling to God’s rope of hope even when you can’t see it?
Help for Your Healing Journey
For additional help on your healing journey, learn more about God’s Healing for Life’s Losses: How to Find Hope When You’re Hurting.