I took Spanish in high school. I began learning the language in the 8th grade and continued to take it into my senior year in college. It was actually the second language I learned. The first was French. I also know some American Sign Language, a little Japanese, and a few words of Korean.
Back when I learned Spanish, the process included conjugating verbs. Esperar is still one of my favorites. Literally translated it means to wait. And I also learned it has another meaning: to hope. The French word for hope (esperer) is similar. Whenever I speak English, I usually think about waiting and hoping together.
I do not believe that these two words are linked in my mind just because they share the same meaning in Spanish. The Bible is full of people waiting with hope. Time and again women and men recount how they were patient, waiting on the Lord for liberation, promises fulfilled and lives restored.
What is your favorite story of waiting and hope from the Old Testament? After God appeared before Noah and asked him to build an ark, Noah had no idea what would happen. Once the rains came, I can only imagine what waiting was like for Noah and his family to remain on the ark for nearly 5 months. Their hopes were contained in the wings of birds that flew from the ark and returned until the day the waters dissipated.
Or the story of Sarah or Hannah, both unable to get pregnant. When Sarah overheard the Lord’s messengers tell Abraham that she would bear a child, she laughed in disbelief. Hannah brought her plea to the house of the Lord for a child, and in time the Lord answered her prayers. I wonder how Sarah and Hannah spent the time once they discovered they were with child.
Queen Esther and Martha prepared meals for very special guests. I believe they felt that everything had to be just right. How nervous they both must have been as those meals were prepared and served. There was another woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears. Maybe she noticed this act of kindness and hospitality had not been performed by his host. She hoped she would be welcome into the Pharisee’s home and more importantly into our Lord’s embrace. And she was.
The Hebrews who settled in the Land of Goshen looked to the Lord for their freedom from bondage. The Jewish people who were part of the Diaspora anticipated the coming of the Messiah, the restoration of the Temple, and their return to Jerusalem. The prophets Isaiah, Micah, Daniel and Zechariah spoke about the coming of our Savior. And each of the Gospels recount stories of people who waited to see the Messiah. Samuel, Anna, 10 lepers, Jairus and his wife, a Centurion, and even a hemorrhaging woman were among those who waited and hoped for healing and salvation.
We are still journeying through the season of the pandemic. We are waiting to take the vaccine. We are waiting to return to worship and missions taking place within the walls of our church buildings. We are waiting for the days when we will see each other without masks or social distancing. We do so with hope. Hope that a new day is dawning, and a new way of living is upon us. Hope in the one who created us. Hope in His continuing presence in our lives. Hope that God’s promises for us will one day be fulfilled. And Amen.