When we hope for something, the timeline is usually very simple. We want whatever it is we’re hoping for, and we want it now. Or better yet, yesterday. The idea of spending days, much less years, patiently hoping for something sounds nearly unbearable.
This is why a look at the Hebrew word for hope reveals a fascinating twist: the word tikvah (hope) contains the root kavah, which means “to wait.” In other words, waiting is literally a central part of hoping.
Consider the wait times some of the heroes of our faith experienced. Abram and Sarai were told they would have a son, but it was eleven years before Ishmael was born, and twenty-five before Isaac was born. The Israelites wandered around in a desert for forty years before they were able to enter the Promised Land. The time between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew is said to span four hundred years. And in the New Testament, when Jesus is presented at the temple, we encounter Anna and Simeon, who have been waiting for Israel’s promised Savior for practically their whole lives.
Today we are also waiting—not for Jesus’s initial coming, but for His return. The question is, how will we spend the time between?
In modern, first-world vernacular, when someone tells us to wait, we usually stop and sit still. But a second look at the above examples shows us a different picture. One that doesn’t involve being stationary. Abram had to leave his homeland to fulfill God’s promise. The Israelites were constantly on the move. Anna and Simeon spent their lives worshiping and praying in the temple. All of these are stories of forward momentum, even while the players in them waited.
Perhaps that is the real test of patience in hope. We keep waiting, and we keep moving forward.
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Excerpted from 40 Days of Intentional Living: A Challenge to Cultivate Faith Through Devotions, Journaling, and Prayer. Copyright © 2021 by Ink & Willow. To be published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, on January 26, 2021.