Patience with others is love, patience with self is Hope, patience with God is faith. The first candle on the Advent wreath is a candle that represents “hope.” Did you hear about the college student who got into trouble? He went to see his advisor. His advisor heard him out and said, “Why don’t you talk to your priest?” The young man replied, “But I’m not Catholic.” “Oh,” said the advisor. “What are you?” He said, “I’m Unitarian.” “Well, then,” he asked, “why don’t you talk to your math teacher?”
Hope is a projection of the imagination; so is despair. Despair all too readily embraces the ills it foresees; Hope is an energy and arouses the mind to explore every possibility to combat despair. In response to hope the imagination is aroused to picture every possible issue, to try every door, to fit together even the most heterogeneous pieces in the puzzle. After the solution has been found it is difficult to recall the steps taken — so many of them are just below the level of consciousness.
EZEKIEL (God will strengthen)-a prophet of a priestly family was carried captive to Babylon in 597 B.C. when he was about 25 years old. His call to the prophetic ministry came five years later. He was married to a woman who was “the desire of his eyes” (24:16). One of the saddest notes of his life was the death of his wife. In Ezek 24:1-2, the prophet was told that on the very day he received this revelation, his wife would die as the armies of Babylon laid siege against the holy city of Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s sadness at the death of his wife was to match the grief of God at the sin of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was commanded not to grieve her death; he was to steel himself for this tragedy even as God had prepared Himself for the death of His beloved city (24:15-22). Perhaps no other event in the lives of the Old Testament prophets is as touching as this. The harshness of God’s command to His prophet emphasizes the Lord’s grief over the fate and sufferings of His rebellious people.
Believers in God have been called upon to suffer many indignities through the ages, but in the suffering of Ezekiel, we learn something of the suffering of God Himself. Ezekiel shows us just how ugly and serious our sin is. Our rebellion brings grief and hurt to God, against whom our sin is directed. Perhaps this is why God acted so dramatically in dealing with the human condition-by sending His Son Jesus to die in our place and set us free from the bondage of sin.
The spirit of the Lord takes Ezekiel, in a prophetic ecstasy, to the valley strewn with the dried bones of human bodies. Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the bones the promise of life. I will cause breath to enter into you. The Hebrew word ruah is translated “breath”, “winds” and “spirit”. Breath is a sign of life, identical with wind or air, and becomes, in this prophecy, the living principle itself, spirit.
By the vision of dry bones coming to life, the Lord, through Ezekiel, proclaims to Israel the coming resurrection of her national life. He foretells by the symbolic act of joining two sticks the future union of the two kingdoms under one head. This act of prophecy gave Ezekiel, HOPE.
All of us need hope, but hope calls for waiting upon God. Humanity waited 2,000 years for the coming of Christ. Almost 1,400 years before Christ came, Job wrote: I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; (Job 19:25) After Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, the Church almost lost heart because of the wait. We discover that God’s timing is not our timing. That Jesus’ words of “soon” are a part of God’s plan. But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)
Waiting is the rule rather than the exception of life. Isaiah writes this beautiful piece, Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isa 40:28)
Isaiah understood the truth about patience. To wait means to stretch in order to become strong. Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength – they soar like eagles!
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28) To wait upon God is to rest. To rest spiritually. To rest physically, to rest emotionally, to rest mentally. God knows our needs even better then we know our needs and sometimes He forces us to rest.
With God there is a perfect timing. I resign my soul into the hands of the Almighty who gave it in humble hopes of his mercy through our Savior Jesus Christ.