Version 2
Photograph by Natalie Romano

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2:1-2

 

We don’t enjoy talking about disappointment, suffering, grief, or loss very much because these experiences don’t lift us up or brighten our days. They don’t make us feel good, although they play very significant roles in our journeys of following Christ. We would rather surround ourselves by encouragement and positivity and move quickly past the dark parts to get to the brighter side as fast and as distracted as we can.

I find myself deeply relating to the wise men because of what they were waiting for. Their hearts must have ached so greatly that they searched so desperately for the sign of a savior. The Bible does not indicate that the Star of Bethlehem held any type of distinguishable appearance. The wise men had to have been focusing so intently to spot this new star in the sky as soon as it rose.

Imagine all of the days they looked into the sky and saw nothing new. They must have experienced a cycle of disappointment. I’m sure they wondered how long they would wait. They may have been wealthy, but that wouldn’t make the waiting any easier or shorter.

Culturally, we hate the idea of waiting. Waiting holds a lot of space for disappointment. We link waiting to wasting time. Most new products and services intend to save time, deliver now. We stream media like television and music so we don’t need to sit through the commercials or wait until the next week for the next episode. We shop online so we don’t need to spend the time driving to the store and dealing with the crowds – and even better, we sign up for free two-day shipping to make it all happen as fast and with as little hassle as possible.

If we must wait, we find ways to distract ourselves to make these periods more bearable. Social media gives us something easy to do while we wait for our order or for our friend to show up – or while we wait for that relationship to change or for that grief to pass.

God leads us into battles, and we fear He won’t lead us out. The severity and the longevity of our hardships hold doors of doubt. Did God really call me here? Did He really intend this terribly difficult situation for me? Does He really hold good on the other side of this? Is there another side?

I admire the wise men for the way they embraced the waiting and engaged with this difficult period. They remained present, expectant, and continued to search for what they were wise enough to know they needed. Their faith and expectancy enabled them to see the star of promise as soon as they did.

I wonder about the Stars of Bethlehem that we miss when we seek to ease our pain. We may search for distraction, but our hearts yearn for direction.

Lord, all I want for Christmas is to expect and notice your signs. As I wait for the salvation, redemption, and reconciliation I know you will bring, I want to accept your gifts of peace and confidence that direct and lead me, ultimately, to You.

 

By Lisa Morris