Watching over, caring for, supporting a loved one with mental health challenges has forced me to learn many new things I never thought I’d need to know—things like how to apply for SSI, how to get a mental health warrant, how to research psychotropic medications and how to recognize and mitigate “triggers.” It has also helped me to learn to pray differently, trust God in deeper ways, be more empathetic with others and, most surprising of all, how to wait.
Think about all the waiting we caregivers endure! We wait for the doctor to call back. We wait for our loved ones to come home (or be found). We wait for the new medicine to work. We wait for healing to happen and for stability to return. And these days, for all of us, we wait for COVID to go away.
In my church tradition, this season of the Christian year is Advent. It is a season of waiting. But not idle waiting. It’s waiting with a purpose, with an expectation, with hope.
When I think of the great “waiters” in Scripture (where there are many, many examples) my mind takes me to Simeon, the old man who was promised he wouldn’t die before seeing the Savior. In Luke 2:25-35 we meet Simeon — a man-in-waiting. Watch how he waits. He doesn’t just pass time (like we do at the airport), but he eagerly waits for God to send the one who would deliver Israel. He doesn’t sit idly while he waits (like we do at the doctor’s office). Instead he dutifully goes about doing what he should be doing. In the waiting he stays busy seeking and serving God; we are told he was “devout” and “righteous.”
As Simeon waited, God began to answer. First came the presence of the Holy Spirit, who “was upon him” (verse 25). Then came the promise that he would see the Messiah before he died. On the right day, he was obedient to be at the right place at the right time. There and then God put the answer to Simeon’s prayers in his own arms.
As I care for my loved one, on what/whom do I wait? How do I wait? What do I do in the waiting? Is the Holy Spirit upon me so I can hear God’s promise to me regarding my hope? When the answer comes, am I where I will find it? Will I recognize the answer when it arrives? And will I, like Simeon, take this gracious answer in my arms and lift it up in praise to God?
My Christmas blessing for you, as you wait for the fulfillment of your hearts’ desires: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)