I have attended church services all my life, but there is one in particular that I will never forget. It happened many years ago in a little town in the eastern part of Cuba, but I can still hear the music and picture the faces of God’s people worshiping our Lord. The church’s town was also one of the poorest places I have visited. The town was established around a sugar cane factory that closed because, at one point, it was cheaper for them to import sugar than to produce it. However, when the country that was providing financial aid, sugar, and many other goods to Cuba stopped doing that, the Cuban economy, in general, and in this town in particular, collapsed. The church building did not have windows; they had two musical instruments, one maraca and one guitar with four strings, because they could not replace the two missing.
Amid this dire financial situation, the worship service at the church reflected the spiritual awakening Cuba was experiencing at that time. People filled the building, and many more joined the service from the outside and looked through the window holes. The worship music was amazing, and one song broke me to tears as I experienced how people sang with a true faith conviction that I had not seen before and that I long to experience again. The song lyrics expressed the belief of genuine hope in the Lord who loves us and is in control even in the middle of desperate circumstances. These believers smiled as they sang, “There is a house better than my current house, this is the house the Lord is building for me. I find comfort and joy in this situation, and I cannot wait to go there and be with my Lord.” The hope of these Cuban brethren was genuine and contagious. I was first impressed by their economic condition but immediately experienced what it is like to trust the Lord with complete confidence that he will act on our behalf. These believers were not concerned for their current houses but were anticipating with hope the “house” that Jesus promised to prepare for his disciples so they would live with him forever (John 14:1-3). This worship service was indeed filled with hope.
The prophet Isaiah offers us an invitation to wait in the Lord. If we are honest, nobody wants to wait. We all want immediate results. For some, a “waiting room” at a doctor’s office or a government agency looks like torture. An encouragement to wait for a solution when things are difficult seems contradictory to most of us. However, Isaiah’s invitation has a vital focus: the Lord. Our Lord is faithful, his presence is constant, and his deliverance is coming. Therefore, we can patiently wait with hope. Theologian Jurgen Moltmann explains that “hope is nothing else than the expectation of those things which faith has believed to have been truly promised by God.” We can wait in the Lord because we have hope and the assurance of a faithful God who cares for us.
Our Father, we are grateful for Jesus Christ, who fulfills your promises and is the focus of our hope. As we patiently anticipate his coming, we wait with the hope that sustains us regardless of our present circumstances because we know something better is coming. As we wait, we all proclaim, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
Note: This Biola University Advent Devotional was published on December 16, 2023.