Sometimes life feels like a perpetual Advent. We are waiting, always waiting. The focus of longing shifts and varies in intensity and significance, but still we wait. Our posture swings from joyful anticipation, to frustrated demands for resolution, to apathetic resignation, and back again. All the while, we wait. We congratulate ourselves on the little victories of learning to endure with patience the grocery check-out line and consider with awe the great heroes of long-suffering: people like the late Nelson Mandela, who waited twenty-seven years in a South African prison for freedom, justice, and reconciliation. Our waiting may seem small against such a majestic backdrop of faithfulness. Yet the longings we carry deepest in our hearts — for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world itself — like tear drops, wet and salty, remind us of the sea, the great ocean of humanity’s hopes and dreams upon which we navigate to safe harbor, or into which we sink in despair.
As Christians, we speak of being “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). What if the tears we shed while waiting make us salty, and through our willingness to live with longing, we preserve the earth? What if the practice of our personal waiting trains us for the “patient endurance” for which the churches in the opening chapters of Revelation are commended? And what if our personal advent seasons find meaning in the ultimate safe harbor that awaits us in the New Heaven and New Earth at the marriage feast of the Lamb (Revelation 21)?
Is there a longing that has made your life feel like a perpetual Advent? Let it make you salty. Let it remind you of what all people and even creation itself await (Romans 8:22), the return of Christ to make all things new. Have faith that even longings unfulfilled will find expression and completion in ways you might not now be able to comprehend. Choose daily to live in joyful anticipation, but groan along with creation when words cannot give voice to the pain of waiting. Remember the value of your tears, which are so precious to God that he gathers them up (Psalm 56:8), and that one day he will wipe them all away (Revelation 21:4). Most of all, be ready to celebrate the feast. Advent may seem perpetual, but the Christ celebration is coming. Let us keep the feast.