2021 Advent Devotions

Jeremiah 33:14-16 | November 28, 2021

Wait and Hope
by Dan Bagby

Jeremiah 33:14-16 (NEB): “Wait, says the Lord, the days are coming when I will bestow on Israel and Judah all the blessings I have promised them. In those days, at that time, I will make a righteous Branch of David spring up; he shall maintain law and justice in the land. In those days Judah shall be kept safe and Jerusalem shall live undisturbed; and this shall be her name: The Lord is our Righteousness.”

Don’t we all have mixed reactions to hearing certain words, based on our emotional history with them? What is your response to hearing “wait?” Do you have expectations attached to the word “promise?”

Though this specific section of Scripture, a repeat of chapter 23:5-6, was probably not originally in this Jeremiah manuscript, it emerged as a repeated source of expectation and hope for Israelites during their years of slavery and absence from the “promised land.” Who wants to hear “wait” while a prisoner in a dark environment, missing their dreams and plans? Who wants to hear a promise made again—from the same source that made promises before—which had not yet come to pass?

Learning to wait is not easy—and can only be nourished by hope. As we move to another Advent season, it’s not easy to “wait with hope”—with so much suspicion and deceit in the air: Can we hope for good—when several who lead us espouse injustice and self-service? Judah and Jerusalem had to refocus while in a dark place, and believe again—as they heard God’s promise that life and joy would improve. They were asked to believe that God’s presence would erase the bad and the ugly in their lives.

The prophet had asserted earlier that God is as faithful in the darkness as in the light. A hope in our own spiritual journey is that faith again may develop best in the darkness—where more trust in the unseen is required.

So often we confuse faith with provable certainty. If belief is provable certainty, it requires no faith, for it is verifiable by observation and tangible evidence. Waiting in faith is an exercise in walking through the dark—into an expected light. Israel was asked to believe in what it could not see, while waiting in the dark.

So we today are also challenged to believe in a dawn that will diminish injustice, dispel disturbance, and give birth to peace. Can justice still be born when we are often still brother to wrong and prejudice? Can peace preside over disturbance, in a time when even our leaders bless violence, hatred, and disharmony? Can love be birthed over fear, suspicion, and deliberate falsehood?

Only if a Branch of the Original Purpose can quietly sprout and grow in the dark places where we live, and show us the path to hope.

Just you wait. It’s going to get better. Do you believe it? The prophet did—during pretty dark days.