I hate suspense. For as long as I can remember, I've hated that pit in my stomach when I don't know how the story is going to end. My aversion to suspense means reading the end of books when it's not clear who's the villain, it means surreptitiously getting on moviespoiler.com while watching the latest blockbuster, and it means an aversion to surprises in any form.
You can imagine how the aversion to suspense played out as a child during the Christmas season. I was definitely the kid shaking presents and trying to untape and retape gifts before December 25. Thankfully, I had parents who let us open one gift on Christmas Eve, which definitely helped me sleep better knowing I had at least one gift I loved every year.
It's weird that given my aversion to suspense that I love Advent. The season during which we mark the waiting with calendars, devotionals, and candles. I love Advent because it reminds me I am not alone in my anticipation of the next season, in my waiting for a fulfilled promise. The Israelites knew what it was to sit in hopeful anticipation, because God promised them a child born of a virgin who would be King forever (Isaiah 7:14, Daniel 2:44).
God gave them glimpses of the coming Messiah throughout the Old Testament. The Christ can be seen in Abraham's obedience to God in almost sacrificing his only son, Isaac, because God's only Son was obedient unto death on a cross. He can be seen in the habitual sacrifices of lambs as repentance of sins, because Jesus is the ultimate lamb, blameless, without sin gave His life so that our sins could be forgiven forever. He can be seen in the blood on the doorposts that saved Israel's firstborn sons in Egypt, because it is Jesus' blood poured out for us that allows God's wrath to passover so that those who were once enemies are now friends.
Generation after generation was told of this coming King who would free the captives, and yet they sat in captivity in Babylon. Generation after generation passed down the words of Jeremiah that their hearts of stone would be exchanged for hearts of flesh, before the Word became flesh 700 years after Isaiah's prophecy of Emmanuel's birth in Bethlehem. God promised a Messiah, and yet they waited. Even as they waited and witnessed plot twist after plot twist, Jesus was always God's Plan A.
Jesus was always coming to redeem us. They did not need to worry even when it seemed like this Messiah would never arrive. Even as they faced trials, the Messiah was going to come. A Mighty God wrapped in swaddling clothes. A Wonderful Counselor to patiently walks with us even as we sometimes crawl slowly toward maturity. An Eternal Father to die on the cross, spend three days in a tomb, and rise again so that we could be sons and daughters. A Prince of Peace to unite Jews and Gentiles, men and women, the poor and the wealthy under His banner of Truth.
Advent is a reminder that even as we wait, Christ is returning. Even as we live in tense times full of uncertainty and injustice, we can wait knowing that in the end He is working all things for our good and His glory. We can wait with joyful expectation instead of pits in our stomachs because we know how this story ends. The weary world rejoices.