Advent 2018, Week 1: Expectation (Hope)
Written by Jelani Ince
On Waiting with Hopeful Anticipation
I know that God exists, somehow. We don’t talk as often as we should, but I can hear Him in my brother’s laugh. See Him in the willow branches extending from the eyes of my grandmothers, feel Him in my chest as the voices from a multitude of poets conglomerate into one sound. Moments such as these whisper, “Trust me, I love you.”
The King will return. But waiting for Him is difficult.
For many of us, to say that 2018 was a trying year would be an understatement. Each day reveals that we are not just experiencing a political divide, but living in different political realities. Speaking the truth is more dangerous than the evil the truth is exposing. Federal agents tear gas image bearers at the border. City officials make space for corporations to install new headquarters while people continually face house insecurity. It is one matter to grieve this evil because these events happened. It is another matter entirely to know we live in a world where these occurrences are routine. The urgency in the question, “how long?” seems to ring louder with each passing moment.
What does it look like to wait in anticipation of what has already come to pass? We have heard the prophecies, but how can we cling to hope when some promises have yet to be fulfilled? I often consider the plight of the Israelites under the regime of Pharaoh or the fiery words that Jeremiah wrote during the reign of the Babylonians.
To meditate on the gravity of these questions can stirhopelessness and despair.
However, I would imagine that part of waiting with anticipation involves embracing the weight of history, not running away from it. This can prove to be incredibly difficult to accomplish in a nation that is uncomfortable with, and continually resists, repentance.
Take comfort in the reality that although God may seem distant, He is with us. It is possible to bear the weight of history without being crushed by it. The tension we are currently experiencing is proof of the Lord’s presence with us. Although it may appear that evil has the final say, He has already conquered this evil through the cross. He has given us the Spirit to comfort us during our moments of weakness and who is there during the moments of uncertainty and despair. The Spirit constantly intercedes forus with “groanings too deep for words”. But, I have to admit that at many points during the year I struggled to believe that. As good as the Lord’s promises are, I hesitate to believe in them when I see what is unfolding in our country, institutions, and world.
This year has reminded me to voice these struggles to trusted people—people who do not place their comfort over my humanity. I am grateful that I can confess when I am hurt, angry, overwhelmed, frustrated, and tired without fear of reprimand. These people serve as reminders of God’s love and care for me, that He is near, present, and at workThe Lord knows that we long for His return, and calls us to draw closer to him. This is the great mystery of our faith—that although we have yet to see the Lord, we can be assured that He is already here. The King sees us and hears us. The King will return.
Songs: Oh the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus;Ain’tGonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around
Recommended passages: Exodus 2:23-25; Psalm 13; Isaiah 1:16-17
Jelani Ince is a PhD student in sociology at Indiana University, Bloomington. His research lies at the intersection of race, culture, and organizations. You can follow him on Twitter: @__theince