Enlarged in the Waiting

October 27, 2016

It’s About Time

The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians. If you haven’t heard, the two baseball teams in this year’s World Series haven’t won the Pennant in a long time. The Cleveland Indians last won a World Series in 1948. The Cubs? Four decades earlier in 1908. The two longest droughts in the League. With the series currently tied at 1-1, the teams promise to give fans a great championship.

Worth Waiting For

Both Indians and Cubs fans know the routine disappointment of waiting. For Cubs fans, generations have come and gone without a World Series championship. Parents have carried on a legacy of patient endurance, and their children have inherited the constant hope for next season. This tradition, passed down, has given Cubs fans an identity unlike any other.

History ≠ Destiny

The Cubs are famous for their underdog status, and Cubs fans are doggedly loyal. Despite the Cubs’ decades-long drought and century-long wait for a World Series win, fans have remained steadfast, confident that their team’s history will not determine their destiny.

Ready, Set, Wait

Like Cubs history, the Bible is full of waiting. The people of God are full of waiting. In Egypt, they waited 400 years for a deliverer. Then in the wilderness, they waited 40 years for a land God had promised to them. In exile they waited 70 years for God to return them to their homeland. When their kingdom was destroyed, they heard nothing for another 400 years. Still, they waited for God to break his silence and send a Messiah who would save them.

It’s Easier Together

These long stretches of silence and disappointment tempt everyone to despair. And they can be very convincing. It’s easy to lose heart and give up. It’s easy to look at other possibilities that seem to hold more promise. But the Cubs and their fans remind Christians that hope takes a community. Bearing such heartache alone will clobber individuals, but withstanding disappointment is easier when we endure it together.

Hope Grows Us

The challenge with waiting is that it takes too long. And often, we don’t know when the waiting will end. The Cubs may win, or the Indians. We don’t know, but we continue hoping.

With God, we wait, not knowing how long it will take. And the Bible is full of people encouraging us to stay faithful. In Romans, Paul describes this waiting like a pregnancy, growing in us, expanding us. Our hope and our waiting shape us and grow us, and they bring to life what God has for us.

Romans 8:22-30

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.