We were seconds away from counting down into the new year of 2020. There I was, standing in the back of the room at the P2C PLUS conference on New Year’s Eve with my uOttawa campus, alongside students from across the country worshipping into the fresh start of the year. With hands lifted high, the room echoed with beautiful unity singing, “We will shout for Your glory / With everything, with everything / We will shout forth Your praise” (With Everything, by Hillsong). In the last moments of 2019, my prayer to God was for him to show me the depth of his character and for me to experience the lengths of his love.
God answered my prayer this year but in a completely different way than I expected.
The anticipation of an exciting year quickly crumbled in the wake of the Covid-19 global pandemic. In a single weekend, my global mission trip was cancelled and my school semester was moved online––I was devastated. In the unexpected change of my plans, I wrestled with God’s motives. God seemed silent, and the school year ended abruptly with no closure or goodbyes with friends. The summer didn’t fare much better. It was filled with a long overdue driver’s ed course and an online summer semester that I had not initially planned to take. This past fall semester was mundane, with Zoom fatigue and missing the security of having community in person. As this season of Christmas approaches, I anticipate more loss and an adjustment of my “normal”––2020 still fully on brand.
Yet even in the pain and stressful adjustment of this year, I’ve started to learn to trust God in new and deeper ways. Some way, somehow, I even look forward to this Christmas season celebrating how Jesus Christ is my living hope. Instead of waiting for my circumstances to change, I’m invited into a period of waiting on the Lord: waiting for his peace to meet me in my desires for normalcy, yearning for his presence more than temporary joys, and patiently teaching my heart to be still and know that he is God.
While I may experience loss and will miss forms of Christmas celebrations this season, I take heart in the Lord who doesn’t stop working in the waiting.
Waiting on God to act and speak isn’t new to God’s people, this Covid-19 pandemic included. In Exodus, the Israelites waited for 40 years, wandering around in the desert, waiting for God to lead them into the Promised Land. The Jews also waited on God, in a period of silence for 400 years after the prophet Malachi, as they awaited their coming Messiah. In both of these scenarios, the sovereignty, timing, and plan of God endured through doubt, fear, and trembling. Reassuringly enough, the silence and waiting did not last forever. In my waiting on God, even when he seems silent, I can trust that God is always present, and he will act in his right timing.
As I wait on God for his daily presence, acknowledging his ways that are above mine, I’m invited into rest. I constantly need to align my heart in a posture of patience to surrender my desires and seek his. My current reality involves moving from my bedroom to the kitchen to the living room each day as I study for my final exams, and I can still have hope that Jesus is with me in my struggles and remains in control over them. As I wait on God, he is slowly changing my longings to merge with his greater global plan of drawing others into this hope.
I constantly need to align my heart in a posture of patience to surrender my desires and seek his.
In waiting on God this year, and in this Christmas season, I have experienced the depth of his character and the lengths of his love. Jesus is my living hope. He sees me in my circumstances, tends to my every need, and leads me in righteousness to trust him and his plans that go beyond my understanding. This is not a shallow hope, but a substantial life-giving hope that is made alive through Jesus, who assures me of my inheritance in heaven that is “imperishable, undefiled, unfading” (1 Peter 1:4).
The living hope I have in Christ assures me of the greatness still to come, in Jesus’ second coming. In Jesus’ first coming, he came down as Immanuel, God with us, and because of this good news, I hold on to hope in my trials for Christ’s comfort as he meets me in the silence and stillness of cancelled plans. In the tension and difference of the year, I am astonished by God’s continual provision as I pray. I no longer wander as I build my foundation upon his enduring Word. His unfailing love embraces me as I surrender in lament to offer the Lord my praise. When I ask God to meet me in my limitation of space or when I grow weary of repetition in tedious routine, I know he hears my cries. God assures me that his sovereign love instills a hope that endures throughout all seasons.
So, am I on stand-by for some grandiose Christmas? Am I eagerly waiting for the finale of the treacherous year of 2020 to be over with so that I can get on with the next? Not exactly. The reason for the season comes with celebrating our Lord and Saviour. For in humility, hope was wrapped in a manger for you and for me. Take heart—Christ invites us to hold on to this living hope, today and everyday, all the way through until we arrive home in eternity.
This article was written as part of the Writing Mentorship with our P2C-Students Editorial team.