The Waiting

Birth    We thought it would be easy. We didn’t plan for our first baby. She arrived, an unexpected gift, eleven days before our first anniversary. So, naturally, we thought having more kids would be quick and uncomplicated.

But we waited, and the years passed. One miscarriage. Then another. Our girl grew older and noticed all the other kids with siblings. She was lonely, she said. She wanted a sister more than anything in the world.

And the fire burned deep and I needed to know why, but no answer came. Just a seed of quiet acceptance that grew until the day we gave away the crib, the clothes, the toys.

But without telling us, she kept praying, unaware of all the reasons why her heart’s desire wasn’t likely to be granted. If I had known how she prayed, I might have even told her to stop.

Then, on a February day three years ago, there they were – two undeniable little pink lines. I knew as soon as I saw the test that the baby would be ok, and my daughter knew it was a girl. God had heard her and was giving her a sister.

And when I held that warm, pink body for the first time and ran my fingers through the dark hair, the sweetness of the moment cut deeper, lifted me higher because of the years of waiting.

The dawn shines brightest after a moonless night.

    But first comes the midnight waiting.

Waiting doesn’t feel natural. We are impatient, and we kick against the hours and days, claustrophobic in time’s grip. Eternal souls tied by seconds and minutes to the soil that will reclaim our bodies someday.

In the past two weeks, three saints I know have graduated, slipped loose of time-bound worries and narrow vision. And then, just this evening I heard about the storm devastation in Oklahoma. More families aching tonight, parents empty-armed.

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55)

    We know this is true. Ultimately.

But now… Now. In the groan of grief we still feel it, an echo of death’s sting. And the midnight waiting stretches long and dark until we wonder when morning is coming, if it is coming.

We are not the first to wait and wonder. Abraham was promised an heir, but it wasn’t until 25 years later that Isaac was born. The Jews wandered in dusty circles for forty years before arriving home. And then there were Jesus’ disciples. When they saw their Rabbi, their friend pierced and bloodied and lifeless, they had no idea how long their wait would be. They just waited. And Jesus, faithful to words he had spoken, words they hadn’t understood, came gently crashing in just three days later, joyfully upsetting their whole view of time and eternity.

Here, with broken bodies and limited sight, the dark feels long. But, really? Really, the waiting time is just a breath. And when the waiting is through, how much brighter the dawn, sweeter the love, richer the grace will feel because we have known the midnight.

    “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” Isaiah 40:31 NASB

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