The Joy of Every Longing Heart

Theresa Tarn, Primer Academic Director and Grammar School Art Coordinator

Are you one of those crazy people who sets up the Christmas tree before Thanksgiving? I am.  Perhaps it’s my love of Christmas songs that puts me in the mood early. Or the little girl in our household who asks me about it every seven minutes. Or maybe because Target got the jump on me and I feel like I need to catch up. No matter the reason, we usually have everything red-and-green set up weeks in advance, which then sets us up for what feels like a really long waiting period. Waiting for gifts to fill up under the tree. Waiting for relatives to arrive in town. Waiting for the last day of school.

Well, Waiting and I are no strangers. This last decade has been marked by a deep longing for our family to grow in number, only to be disappointed month after month. Countless prayers have been met with the agonizing silence of God. Many of you have been stuck in a waiting game since Harvey, dealing with permits and builders while being displaced. Some TCS families have been anxiously waiting for our first batch of graduating seniors. And I know I can’t be the only mom out there waiting for the laundry to fold itself! The truth is that we are all waiting on something. The Lord has set eternity in our hearts and as believers, we are in a state that is described as “already but not yet” — Christ has won the victory over sin by dying on the cross, but has not yet come back for his own. What, then, are we to do with this kind of heart-aching waiting? How do we fill our souls with hope while waiting on the Lord?

Reading through Luke 2 in preparation for the Advent season, I am reminded of faithful saints like Simeon and Anna, who serve as great examples of what it means to wait well. They waited their entire lives for the consolation of Israel (v. 25) and for the redemption of Jerusalem (v. 38). And God honored their faithfulness by allowing them to see the long expected Messiah. But the birth of Jesus not only fulfilled Israel’s longing for a king, it also initiated God’s redemptive plan to fulfill every longing heart with everlasting joy. John Piper suggests in his sermon,

If there is a longing in your heart today for something that the world has not been able to satisfy, could it not be God’s Christmas gift preparing you to see Christ as consolation and redemption, and to receive him for who he really is?”

The waiting experiences that God gives us, however frustrating they may be, serve as training grounds for how we ought to wait upon Christ for his second coming. So as we decorate our homes with trees and lights for the Christmas season, may this time of observing the first Advent be a reminder that waiting can actually be a gift. Give thanks to God for the mercy of waiting on things not yet received. And then let your heart be weaned from them, so that you are better prepared to receive our coming King – the only one that can truly satisfy our deepest desires. Come, thou long expected Jesus. You are the joy of every longing heart!

“Come Thou Long Expected Jesus” by Charles Wesley, 1744. (Red Mountain Music)