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Day 4 of 26 :: He’s in the waiting.

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 HANNAH

I'm a writer, author, and online educator who loves helping others build intentional lives through the power of habit and meaningful routines.

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When I lived in New York City after college, I would always have to go through Grand Central Station to get home after work. 

Even when it is a part of something as ordinary as your daily commute, there is still something magical about Grand Central Station. About the people coming and going. About the clock in the center that is a central meeting ground for people. At any given hour, you can post up somewhere in Grand Central and watch people by the clock. There is always someone waiting for someone else. 

During that time, my friend Libby and I would occasionally meet up after work in Grand Central and we’d stand together for a few minutes at the top of the grand staircase. I remember plenty of times where we just stood in silence together. We’d watch people at the clock and try to guess who was waiting for who. Who was going on a first date? Who was meeting for the first time? Who was seeing an old friend or waiting for a lover to come off a southbound train? 

I can’t really tell you why we spent so much time doing this but I think now, so many years later, it was because Libby and I were both waiting on things. And sometimes when you are in the waiting it helps to know someone else is waiting too. 

 

We don’t like to talk about waiting, do we? We like the finished product. We like arrival. We like a good ending to a story. But waiting? That part is hard. That part is often un-documentable. It’s not pretty nor tidy. It can be messy and let’s be real, it can sometimes feel like God is absent. Like he snuck out of the story a long time ago. 

The Gospel of Luke begins on a stranger note than the other three Gospels. It doesn’t dive right into the story of Mary and Joseph like we see in Matthew. It takes you through another story first to get to the main course. It’s the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. 

We don’t know much about these two but we do know that Zechariah was a priest in the temple of Judea. By traditional standards, there were 24 groups of priests and Zechariah was in one of those groups. They would go with their group twice a year into the temple for a week at a time. 

Zechariah had a wife named Elizabeth. Of this woman, we only know that she was embarrassed by her lack of fertility. Modern-day Elizabeth likely would have been at all the baby showers of her friends and she was likely tired and broken down by shopping for other people’s babies on Amazon and Target. I imagine she wrestled with how to be happy and rejoice with others when they were getting the exact thing she wanted more than anything. 

 

You see, Elizabeth isn’t some distant removed character of the Bible. She was a real woman who waited and doubted and pressed in and kept on pressing even when she felt hopeless. 

We don’t get the full interior working of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s lives together but we know from the text that Zechariah prayed a desperate and repetitive prayer to God. We know he must have said a hundred times before, “God, we want a baby. Did you hear us? Did you forget about us?” 

The Bible does not specifically tell us how long Zechariah and Elizabeth waited to have a child but I can only imagine the aches and shaky prayers that came with so many years of asking only to hear back, “Not yet.” 

 

Last Christmas, I wrote this series all while expecting a baby of my own. The experience of pregnancy made me feel closer to Mary and Elizabeth as my fingers tapped against the keys. But I could not help but think about the millions of women out there who are trying to conceive and it just hasn’t happened for them. I can’t help but think about and remember the so many of us who are waiting for something to come to fruition but all we ever hear, if not perfect silence, is the “Not yet.” 

Friend, if you are someone who is experiencing the “not yet” right now then I want you to know I am with you today. I see you. I see you in the waiting. 

I think it is far too easy to package up the story of Elizabeth and say, “See!? This is someone who was waiting for something and then God showed up.” Yes, this is all true. But anyone who has ever felt the waiting period knows that the feelings and the longings and the pain of another day unfulfilled leaves scars. It isn’t something you just get over. It stays with you. 

The waiting changes us. 

It turns us into different versions of ourselves. 

Even though the Bible makes it clear that waiting is an unavoidable part of life, it is still so hard to be able to say, “All of this has a purpose. All of these unfulfilled yearnings are turning me into a steadfast person.” That’s not something we easily utter or can tell someone else when the waiting has taken a turn for the “too long.” 

 

No matter where you are today, God sees you in the waiting. He counts every prayer. He knows what your heart yearns for and the Bible says that if you cannot specifically ask for it then God will still know your desires by the groans of your heart. This is our God. 

He is a God who does not dismiss us when the waiting feels endless. He is a God who does not walk out on us or use the waiting to punish us. 

You need to know this— the waiting period for Zechariah and Elizabeth was not because they’d messed something up years earlier and now they were walking out a barren punishment. 

Our God does not keep tally of our mess-ups and waits to dole out punishments. Quite the opposite, he is near to those who are brokenhearted. He is close to those who have yet to see the promise in the land they’ve been trekking through for days and months and years. He is a constant companion— there right alongside you— with this backpack on and his water bottle filled up.  

He does not grow weary. Instead, he leans in at the moment where the strength is gone and whispers, “Hey you, lean into me. You can’t walk any longer? Hop on. I’ll carry you.” 

There is more to the story, friend. The story doesn’t end in the valley. 

Let’s keep moving forward and see what happens next. 

READING

Luke 1:5-7

 

STEAL THIS PRAYER

Dear God, you see me in the waiting and you count all my desperate prayers. You see horizons and new beginnings where I can only see fog and desperation. Help me to stand firm in the waiting and know that you are equipping me to be stronger. And on the days I cannot stand, please carry me.

Carry me and hold me until I can run again.


 

 

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Hi, I'm Hannah

I love writing about all things faith, mental health, discipline + and motherhood. Let's be penpals!

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