It’s 4:30 in the morning in the middle of Advent, and I am waiting.
Over the past 48 hours, eight people have been vomiting in our home. As I sit in the stillness between sick bay and those who are now resting, I wonder.
Will it hit me? Will I suffer, too? How long, O Lord? You have spared me thus far, but what is to come?
It’s not the kind of waiting that’s typically associated with this season. Yet in the midst of it all, my heart is stirred.
“Rejoice,” said the apostle.
“Rejoice,” said the preacher.
“Rejoice,” said a friend.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
I hear restless stirrings, and I pause and listen. All soon settles into silence again, but for the low rumble of the laundry as loads four and five sanitize in the wash and dry for use again.
I alone am awake at this hour, watching and waiting, but I know I’m not alone.
“How long, O Lord?” my heart cries with the echoes of the saints.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Indeed, the whole creation waits with eager longing, groaning together. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit–we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
A moan comes from the couch with another rustling of covers, so I pause and listen again. Silence. Rest.
In all the frenzy of the past month, this here is the very posture I have been seeking–the stillness, the listening, the waiting. But this is not at all how I expected to find it, between buckets and swaddles of bed clothes.
Suffering, waiting, groaning–these are not the things we seek, and yet are they not what we have been promised?
“In the world you will have trouble,” Jesus said. “But take heart–I have overcome the world.”
As I listen, fully awake, sweet words of comfort come to mind:
…you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:15-17
…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:26-28
We have been given good gifts. Very good gifts.
We are not alone in our waiting and groaning and suffering, praise be to God.
Though these are not the plans I had for myself, yet I will rejoice, patient in tribulation, constant in prayer.
This light and present suffering cannot be compared to the weight of glory to come.
The Coming One will come, says the preacher.
And so, we wait, for the redemption of our sickly bodies.
And we rejoice.