“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities” (Psalm 130).
You’ve all lived in those moments where all you could do is wait. You’re waiting for a phone call from your doctor. You’re waiting to hear from a friend that you hurt. Your child went missing and you are waiting for the police to call and tell you they found them. You put an offer on a house and you are waiting to hear back from your realtor. Waiting can be one of the hardest, most trying experiences in life.
Thinking in terms of Christmas, I remember when I was kid having to wait for Christmas morning to come. The waiting was excruciating. Unfortunately, in light of Christmas, we think too much about Christmas and not enough about Advent. Advent is the time looking forward. It is the season of waiting. It is the season where we put ourselves in the place of the Israelites who were desperate for the Messiah to be born. They didn’t have a completely correct understanding of who the Messiah would be, but they fully understood how they were longing for the Messiah to come. So why should we focus on the waiting of Christmas and not on the day of Christmas itself? So we realize the need that Jesus came to meet. So we realize the place of desperation we are in, apart from Jesus.
The worst part of waiting is the complete lack of control that we are in, yet in that madness is also beauty. When we are waiting to hear from the doctor or from the police, we feel completely powerless. Nothing we do can make the process go any faster. In that time of waiting, our hearts are burdened and the rest of life seems to be put on hold. For believers, our response is to place our trust in God and His promises to us. The Psalmist understood this powerlessness. All he could do is wait and look! When things are going well and Christmas has come, our eyes look down on the prosperity we are in, not the need that we actually have.
The repetition of Psalm 130:6 shows the repetition that God longs for us to have, both in seasons of waiting and in seasons of prosperity. He wants us to be like the watchmen looking for the morning. Throughout Scripture, the night time is connected to darkness, difficulty, trial, and despair. Those lying awake at night cannot sleep because the pain and despair is too overwhelming. The watchmen is waiting for the morning sun to rise that brings hope and joy.
In the darkness, the waiting, the despair, and the night-time, cling to the promises of God as you look up and wait for God to answer. “With the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption… He will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” But when the darkness lifts, the morning sun rises, the answer has been given, the tension has been lifted and Christmas has come, let your eyes look to the same place they were looking in the waiting. Cling to the promises of God, and continue to look up to the One who is present, who has answered, who has come!