Sunday, November 29, 2015

While We Wait

Today marks the first day of Advent, the season leading up to Christmas. In the Christian Church, Advent, from the Latin word adventus meaning arrival, is a time of anticipation, waiting for the celebration of the arrival of Baby Jesus. In the business world, this first day of Advent comes between the significant shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and merchants await the profits to be gained from eager holiday shoppers. For most people Advent is a time of waiting for Christmas marked by a flurry of activity in preparation for this important holiday.

Like many people, Alex eagerly anticipates Christmas, his favorite holiday, counting down the days on the calendar. Like me, Alex is not by nature a patient person. However, he relies upon his beloved numbers and measuring tools of clocks and calendars to help him deal with waiting. Moreover, he has adopted a philosophy about the future, often telling us: “Wait and see.”

This week, we have had our patience tested in situations where we had to wait. On Friday, Alex’s ever-punctual music therapist was late for the first time because he was involved in a meeting that ran longer than he had anticipated. Although he called to let us know he would be late, I knew that Alex was becoming more anxious every minute he had to wait. Checking his watch and the clock on the wall, Alex was patient at first, but as time passed, he became more and more concerned whether his music session would ever happen. Adding to his frustration was that he was looking forward to singing Christmas songs that his therapist had promised the previous week. As I talked him through his anxiety, I gave him the choice to leave or stay, and he chose to stay. The wait was worth the effort because when his therapist arrived, they were able to sing the songs Alex had been waiting to sing all week long. Of course, Alex’s first request was “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” a carol about waiting for the good gifts to arrive.

This weekend, as I ran some errands, I also had to muster up my own patience, as the official start of the Christmas shopping season brought more people out seemingly to get in my way. As I waited in my car for people who acted as though they’d never seen green traffic lights before, waited for people who seemed to want to stand endlessly in front of items I needed to buy, and waited in lines to check out behind people who couldn’t make decisions about how they wanted to pay, I took deep breaths and tried to keep my peace. Knowing that the month of December will be filled with these moments of waiting, I found myself questioning: What do we do while we wait?

A quick concordance search of the Blue Letter Bible online shows that the word “wait” appears in 70 verses in the New Living Translation of the Bible and in 101 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. As I scanned through these verses, I noticed that not only are we told to wait, but we are also told how to wait. The verb “wait” is often followed by the adverbs “patiently” and “quietly.” Scriptures also tell us to wait “confidently,” “eagerly,” and “with eager hope.”

Consequently, we know how we’re supposed to wait, but I still struggle with what I’m supposed to do while I wait. From the time Alex was diagnosed with autism, I have been waiting for him to get better, sometimes patiently waiting, but often times restless and frustrated when progress seemed slower than I thought it should be. To fill my time, I focused on autism research, seeking answers to my questions and trying to find ways to make Alex better.  When I find myself too focused on the future and the “what if’s” both positive and negative, I have to remember to live in the present and have faith that God has already figured out the future for Alex.

When I question Alex about future events, such as which sports team he thinks will win a game or what he thinks the weather forecast will be, he reminds me to watch for what the future holds by saying, “Wait and see.” Not only does he understand that waiting––even though he and I both dislike that process––is part of life, but he also holds anticipation for what is to come. Moreover, he has an expectation that waiting will bring a reward. To understand the value of waiting requires peace brought with patience along with hope bolstered by faith. Alex’s complete and unquestioning faith in God allows him to believe that if he waits, he will see something good, even if it’s as simple as being able to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with his music therapist.

During this sacred yet busy time of Advent, I pray that I remember to be patient as I wait, knowing that good things will arrive in their good time. Just as certainly as I know that Christmas will arrive on December 25th, I also know that Alex will get better in time. Trusting God, I will strive to wait patiently, quietly, eagerly, confidently, and with eager hope at what He has planned for Alex’s future, which I have no doubt will be something to see.

“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” Romans 15:4

No comments: