Everyone waits during the holidays. But especially your aging parent. You wait for the crowds to dissipate and the to-do list to be checked off. Your parent’s waiting is often darker.
Perhaps he or she longs for a body to mend. Or a family relationship to heal. Or the constant loneliness and depression to go away. And often that waiting makes the days seem long and the nights even longer.
My dad died in 2003. During the holidays, and at other times during that last year, his waiting was plagued by doubts–about himself and about his relationship with God. “I don’t see how God could ever forgive me,” he’d say, and “I’m good for nothing.” Funny, since he’d been a pastor. I wish I could have chased those blues away, but I couldn’t. I could only say, “I’m so sorry. I’m really so sorry.”
I did remind him of something he’d told me all my life. “Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.” Looking back, I wish I’d reminded him of a holiday story straight out of the Bible, in Luke 2, of two elders who knew all about waiting.
Simeon, an older man, visited the temple in Jerusalem every day, waiting for the coming of the Messiah. One day he was led to go to the temple where he spotted Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. Immediately he recognized that this child was no ordinary baby. He blessed Jesus, and said to God, “…Let your servant go in peace, according to your word, because my eyes have seen your salvation.”
Anna, another elder, was an 84-year-old widow, who never left the temple. Daily she prayed, fasted and waited on God. The day Jesus and his parents showed up to see Simeon, she approached and immediately knew this was the Christ she had waited for.
Besides the shepherds, these elders were the first to see Jesus. In their frailty, they could relate to the tiny baby who was their Savior. I have an idea God didn’t take away any physical pain they had, or give them a perfect life. But He gave him a glimpse of Himself, which is what all of us–old and young–want and need.
Waiting is hard–for all of us. But it’s good we don’t have to wait alone.