Waiting. We all have our own stories of waiting. Maybe you’ve waited in the lobby of a doctor’s office to hear your name called at 10:45 . . . for an 8:30 appointment. Or, better yet, you’ve waited around with a student after an event for the parent who is 30 minutes late. Waiting is no fun. And yet, it’s not a new concept. It’s been around for thousands of years.
For generations, God’s people waited on the promised Messiah, the one who would bring redemption.
Isaiah’s prophecy (Isaiah 6:9) says “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” What a wonderful thing to look forward to! But generations passed away and never saw the fulfillment of this promise. What a struggle it must have been to continue waiting.
And so, imagine with me the day the angel appeared to Mary. And then to Joseph. The Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth with knowing. Simeon and Anna saw in the flesh the very One they had longed to see. All of these were named in Scripture and play a key role in the story. These were people who had been assured that they would meet the Savior, and then one day they did. But what about the shepherds?
The shepherds would have been waiting, too. But probably not in the expectant way these others waited. They were living their everyday lives when, suddenly, their waiting ended: “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (Luke 2:8). They weren’t sitting idly by just waiting. Like the generations before them, their waiting included living life day in and day out. But they, like those before them, would have had a general sense of hope for the day the Messiah would arrive.
Unexpectedly, the angel of the Lord appeared and said to them, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) How did the shepherds respond? “So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.” (Luke 2:16) One minute they are tending their flocks, the next they are in the presence of the long awaited Messiah! Their waiting had officially ended. So that’s it, right? The waiting is done. Story over. Wrong!
Luke 2:20 says, “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” The promises made by God were true and could be trusted for fulfillment. This is an unchanging truth for us today.
We can trust the promises of God’s Words just as the shepherds did. But we must also wait on his timing as the shepherds did.
One of the things I find most frustrating about ministry is that we work so hard yet never see the full fruits of our labor this side of heaven.
We trust that God is at work yet we often feel like we are blindly moving forward. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of great victory that bring encouragement. But when it comes to the end result, we most likely will never see it. Does that leave you feeling weary? Do you often feel like you’re spinning your wheels or working in vain? Take heart because there is another promise we can count on.
In Galatians 6:9, Paul encourages us, saying, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” My friends, let’s keep pressing on to the end, knowing that, like the shepherds, one day we will see the fulfillment of God’s promises. And on that day, what celebration and rejoicing there will be!