The following two pieces are written by Jenny Arnold:
During this season of Advent (towards the coming) we are waiting in memoriam for the birth of the Christ child. I have been thinking about the concept of ‘waiting’ and what it means for us as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Waiting is Hard
Waiting requires patience, whatever it is that we are waiting for, and it is a concept we are not born with! Babies require instant gratification for food, nurture, warmth, attention, care – otherwise they will not survive. As the baby grows and becomes a toddler, this concept of waiting for gratification must be taught and learnt. Anyone who has raised a child will remember the Terrible Twos when the toddler is beginning to be aware of his or her ability to manipulate and demand.
I don’t think I will ever forget my son’s first temper tantrum! He was firmly secured into his pushchair (because he had learned to climb out of it very rapidly and easily) and we were shopping for a birthday card for my mother, his Granny. All was calm as we approached the pay desk but when I took the card from him to hand to the cashier fury and rage erupted as he demanded that the card be returned to him. By the time we emerged from the shop, he was bright red and screaming with rage and I was traumatised and shaking! We had several more similar incidents when his demand for gratification had to yield to the concept of waiting. And I had to learn patience in teaching it.
Somehow or other the need for immediate gratification must inevitably concede to the concept of waiting patiently.
The Webster English Dictionary gives the meaning of the verb, ‘To Wait’ as: ‘a state of expectancy and watchfulness;’ whilst the Oxford English Dictionary defines it thus: ‘remain in readiness for a purpose.’ The root of the word is Germanic and originally meant ‘observe carefully and be watchful.’
The definition of the word Patient in the Webster Dictionary is: ‘bearing pains or trials calmly without complaint;’ and the OED definition is given as: ‘able to tolerate delays, problems or suffering without becoming angry or anxious.’ The root of this word is given as Latin from the verb, ‘To Suffer.’
King David on Waiting
God’s Word repeatedly talks of waiting patiently for Him. There are many Scriptures I could offer here but these are just a few: Psalm 27:14, ‘Wait patiently for the Lord. Be strong and courageous. Wait patiently for the Lord.’
Psalm 25:3, ‘Surely none who wait for You will be put to shame but those who are faithless without cause will be disgraced.’
Psalm 40:1, ‘I waited patiently for the Lord. He inclined His head to me and heard my cry.’
Psalm 130:5, ‘I wait for the Lord. My soul doth wait and in His Word I put my faith.’
All these Scriptures have been taken from Psalms, the Book of David. I love the story of David waiting, and patience did not always come easily to him – and I admit to identifying strongly with him.
His story tells us that waiting is not easy and much patience is needed. It also tells us that our timing is not God’s timing, and again, this is something I have to try and come to terms with. Like toddlers, we have to learn that waiting requires patience, and therefore includes suffering waiting in anticipation for that to come.
God is in the Waiting
The following is an extract from a letter written by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. It is worth noting that Teilhard was a Jesuit Roman Catholic priest and paleontologist whose focus on eco-theology was ahead of his time; some of his other views are highly questionable, some say heretical, and the New Age Movement adapted some of these teachings for their own antichrist religious outlook. If you want to read a detailed critical analysis of Teilhard’s thinking – please visit https://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/challenging-rehabilitation-pierre-teilhard-de-chardin
Teilhard quote, ‘Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We should like to skip the intermediate stages. We are of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing some stages of instability and that it may take a very long time.
And so it is, I think, with you. Your ideas mature gradually so. Let them grow, let them shape themselves without undue haste as though you can be today what time, that is to say Grace and circumstance acting on your own goodwill will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that His hand is leading you and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete’
Over these months of isolation, I have used my time to explore and meditate on my own impatience in wanting Father to move in my life, and give me that abundant life which His Word promises. Frustration and impatience, loneliness and sometimes anger have been my companions on many days. Only through that suffering am I learning that in the suffering of learning the art of patience and waiting am I now seeing Him at work in my life, and presenting me new opportunities to serve Him instead of myself.
2. THE LAST PRESENT
The woman sat pondering the array of gifts on the ground. A small frown wrinkled her flawless and youthful complexion and her lips compressed tightly together giving her an air of puzzled complexity.
The pure golden nugget about the size of her baby son’s tiny fist stared up at her from the casket in which it lay. This was worth many years wages for her husband who, despite being upright and an honest a man as she could ever have wished to marry, was a journeying carpenter and their lifestyle was frugal.
Her eyes flicked sideways to the pot of frankincense stoppered now but its potent and heady fragrance lingering in the air competing with the odour of animal manure.
She was familiar with the aromatic resin as it was used in the temple where she and her people worshipped but it was something she and Joseph could never afford to offer the priests and the small pot was worth equally as much as the gold.
In her arms the tiny newborn baby stirred and began to nuzzle at her breast. Swiftly she allowed him to suckle but her eyes returned quickly to the third and last present.
Again the pot was tightly stoppered and contained a resin tapped from the prickly thorn bushes of her native region. This was a substance she was also intimate with but her small furrowed brow deepened in intensity as she regarded the pot. The resin was myrrh and for those who could afford it, a little could be mixed with wine and taken as an analgesic to ease pain and fever. It was, she knew, sometimes offered to those wretches whose fate was to hang on a rough hewn gallows until death mercifully embraced them.
Hearing footsteps she looked up to see her husband in the open doorway. His face was etched with concern as he appeared to study the gifts in puzzlement. She saw him run his fingers through his beard several times – a sure sign that he was brooding.
He moved his gaze to his wife and her son fretting over the visit of the strangers who had brought the costly treasures.
Their eyes met briefly and then the man turned again to the open doorway.
Happy Christmas and a Blessed 2021