What We’re Waiting For
by Pastor Dan Palomino
Hope and Peace go hand in hand. That’s what Advent is all about. And oh, how we need both as we wait on the Lord! Two other elements that fit right in here are Faith and Love. Jesus came into this world to bring us hope and peace, and that we might know his love through faith in him.
Luke announces the peace that Jesus brings by quoting the messenger, the angel of the Lord: “‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’…And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’” (Luke 2:11-14)
But how can we have hope when things don’t go the way we had thought they would? How can we have hope when we are disappointed in God, when we feel like he has let us down, or when things happen in life that we don’t understand?
Jesus himself answers these questions by telling us that our ultimate hope does not come in this lifetime but in what is to come. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 14:33)
He came that we might have peace. How can we have peace in the midst of the tribulation? The same way Jesus could sleep soundly in the back of the boat while the storm raged on. Because Jesus is still with us, God is with us. That’s what we read in scripture and sing about, especially at Christmastime. Maybe that’s a problem. We tend to reflect upon the name, Emmanuel (which is a promise that means “God is with us”), mainly at this time of year. Yes, the promise is there that God is with us in the Christ child, but we have to remember that God is always with us. That’s why Jesus gave us his Holy Spirit. “Very God of very God” dwells within every person who puts their trust in him.
That’s how we can face tribulation, that’s how we can endure the storm. This is how we can have hope when we’re faced with illness, joblessness, injustice, oppression, broken relationships, hatred, loss, or even death. Peace gives us hope. Hope enables us to be at peace. God is ALWAYS with us and not just when he was here physically roaming the earth as a carpenter’s son. The very name given to him was a sign to us that God IS (not was) with us!
Jesus tells his disciples (and us), “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:27) He tells us this right after he promises the Holy Spirit to each and every believer.
This is how we know that he loves us and how we can know his love for us. “For God so loved the world” —that is, God loved the world in such a way— “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” For Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:16-17)
We can experience the “Peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) in the midst of life’s difficulties because of the hope we have in what is to come, eternal life, when we will no longer have to face any kind of tribulation. Faith and hope go hand in hand, as well. (See Hebrews 11:1.)
The peace that Jesus promised us so long ago is not a peace that is to come, it is for now, in the midst of the tribulation that he told us we will face in this world, in this life. But there will come a time when we will no longer need faith and hope because we will be right there with the LORD, face to face, gazing upon him in all his fullness. For now, though, we need faith, hope and peace because we can only see God as in a dimly lit mirror. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
For now, we have faith, hope (peace) and love because of the birth of Jesus into the human family and the work he accomplished on the cross for which he was born. That waiting is over. The waiting we endure now is for his return. The greatest of these three (faith, hope and love) is love. Why?
Because love lasts forever, it goes on into eternity. (1 Corinthians 13:8) In the eternal realm, we will no longer need faith and hope (or peace) because our faith and hope will have come to fruition. We will revel in the glory of the perfect and everlasting love of God!
It’s worth the wait.