December 9, 2010

Dec. 9: Waiting for what we need

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By Jessica Gotwals, a sophomore nursing major from Telford, Pa.
SCRIPTURE: James 5:7-10 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL:

Christmas morning at my home in Pennsylvania looked a little bit different than many households. Instead of kids tearing down the stairs, too antsy to wait to open their gifts until a reasonable hour, my family opened presents on Christmas Eve. Regardless though, we three kids would still be up early in the morning, anticipating the events of the day. Before I can remember, my dad started a tradition of hiding half dollars in each of our rooms, giving us the task of finding all the hidden coins before we came downstairs. We always thought it was for our enjoyment, loving every minute of the search. Now that we’ve grown up, we’ve realized that our parents were really just looking to secure themselves an extra hour of sleep. Whatever their original motives, they also taught us something about patience.

Patience is one of those words that gets thrown around a lot. Kids waiting for supper—be patient. Drivers waiting in traffic—be patient. Parents getting frustrated with their kids—be patient. Patience is easy to talk about, but harder to practice. In different circumstances throughout my life, this is what I’ve learned about patience so far:

It’s easy to wait for things you don’t want. I would have been more than willing to wait for years to get my wisdom teeth out or to take the SATs.

It’s hard to wait for things you do want. Kids on Christmas morning want to race down the stairs and get started on the presents, the food, the gatherings. Be patient.

It’s even more difficult to wait for things that you need. I’ve never had the experience of needing food or water in a life or death circumstance, but I know what it is to be in need. I know what it means to need support, to need answers, to need hope. It is extraordinarily difficult to be patient in those circumstances.

Advent is a time of waiting. We long for Christ’s presence, hope, joy, consistency and peace. We are all waiting for things that we need, and we don’t know exactly how or when our needs will be met. But as people of faith, we wait with confidence knowing that our needs will be met, assured by the faithfulness of God and the promise of the coming of Jesus Christ. What is it that you want? What is it that you need?

Peace to you as you wait.

SCRIPTURE: James 5:7-10 (NRSV)

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

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Comments (26)

  1. Very nice reflection. Patience is such a wonderful virtue, isn’t it whether practiced and observed in grocery store lines or at a yellow traffic signal. That’s a good idea about hiding the money.

    Karen Flaherty December 9, 2010 |
  2. This is a very good devotional, Jessica. Thanks. Keep sharing your insights with the church.

    Marlin Jeschke December 9, 2010 |
  3. Thanks, Jessie. Good thoughts!

    Judy December 9, 2010 |
  4. Patience . . . the ongoing, never ending lesson in life! Thanks for sharing your stories, Jessica, and for your reflection today.

    Betty December 9, 2010 |
  5. Thank you for today’s wisdom, as well as the snapshot from your childhood Christmas.

    Jeff Hochstetler December 9, 2010 |
  6. Thank you, Jessica, for your young, flexible approach to waiting. I am a patient person by nature, though when health and safety of my kids are in the balance, I am a wreck.

    Did you get there safely? How’s the driving? Why didn’t you call? What did the doctor say? The anxiety behind these questions is palpable. Only rarely do I remember that I am not in control anyway — and just pray.

    Thank you for your thoughtful reminders in this busy season of the world. I am trying to make my world relax and breathe, and your young wisdom will help me.

    Maureen Nalezny December 9, 2010 |
  7. Timely message – perhaps the one I have been “waiting” for….

    Julie December 9, 2010 |
  8. I had yet to open one of these in my email and I’m so glad this is the first one I have opened in this season of Advent. I am truly having this battle with patience and I really appreciate the perspective. Thank you and may God bless you.

    Renee December 9, 2010 |
  9. Very fine Advent Devotional, Jessica! Thank you.

    Dave Shephard December 9, 2010 |
  10. very good jessica
    from an 83 year old methodist you have a great insight to life
    may you continue to grow and bloom

    mitchell jones December 9, 2010 |
  11. I wait each day for the devotions by GC Students and faculty. Today your reflections on waiting were special.

    Mary Mishler December 9, 2010 |
  12. Jess – your thoughts are full of wisdom, and just what I needed to hear this morning. Blessings to you!

    Deb December 9, 2010 |
  13. Jessica, our family does the same thing — opening gifts on Christmas Eve. My dad didn’t hide half dollars, though my parents still “stall” at our church Christmas Eve worship service, eating cookies like it was their job. Thank you for a wonderful, honest reflection of what it means to be patient in the midst of turbulent uncertainty. Many of us need this message this Advent.

    Sheldon December 9, 2010 |
  14. Jess,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, it was just what I needed today! I always look forward to reading the advent devotions.

    Renee B December 9, 2010 |
  15. Thank you Jess. Wonderful words and a nice surprise to see your lovely face on my devotional screen this morning!
    Brenda :)

    Brenda Shelly December 9, 2010 |
  16. Very well-written and timely message! For most of us, learning patience is a life-long task! Thank you for sharing your childhood memory. I wish I had thought of that when our children were still at home!

    Mary December 9, 2010 |
  17. Jessica, thank you for this devotional. I needed the scripture and your thoughts on patience today!

    Esther December 9, 2010 |
  18. Jess – I loved the creative way your dad found to keep you busy until it was really time to get up! Your thoughts on patience are timely for me. I am the most impatient person on the planet and your words have inspired me to keep on developing this fruit of the Spirit. I believe the key word here is God’s Spirit – that is the starting point for developing patience. I want to invite the Spirit to do this “work” in my life. Blessings to you! Looking forward to seeing you over the holidays!
    – Jody Moyer

    Jody Moyer December 9, 2010 |
  19. Valuable words for a hurried age. Thank you, Jessie.

    Barry December 9, 2010 |
  20. This is one of the best of this year’s devotionals so year. Thanks, Jessica, for your timely reflection as we wait together for what we really need.

    Jen Burch December 9, 2010 |
  21. This was a very good devotional, so practical and yet you shared many valuable lessons for daily life. Thanks

    Becky Nolt December 9, 2010 |
  22. Bless you, Jessica, for speaking God’s word through this devotional. I have had the worst year of my life and have great need of patience and God’s peace…this has been a prodding from the Spirit.

    Susan December 9, 2010 |
  23. Jessica, a very timely message in our hurry,hurry-up world. I always read the devotionals and share them with my opening statements in Sunday School, and especially the advent readings are so appropriate. Thankyou for sharing.Renetta

    Renetta December 9, 2010 |
  24. Not many people would think of putting the word “consistency” amidst attributes like hope, joy and peace. But I am so glad you did. I am so thankful that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and that His promises are never changing. It is such a difference from the world we live in and from so many people I encounter. Thanks for taking the time to write this.

    Chris December 9, 2010 |
  25. Really enjoyed your devotional, Jess. Thanks!

    Lucy Brubaker December 10, 2010 |
  26. Very good perspective for me and anyone else who needs good news during this season (of life).

    Libby December 10, 2010 |