Waiting for a Jesus Kick
Lent is the other season of waiting and anticipation. Maybe it's the lack of television specials or seasonal music, but Lent is just not nearly as much fun as Advent. It's thematically darker. There's a lot of rain. The temperature is up and down. Sometimes it feels like the anticipation without the joy.
And it feels like another aspect of my life right now is waiting. I'm expecting a baby in T-minus 5 months. I am waiting and I am panicking. Not just the normal stuff: will we be okay parents? What will we do for childcare? What is this all going to cost?
I am almost halfway through my pregnancy, and if you're familiar with its stages, you know I'm waiting on another big milestone – when baby starts kicking.
It's known as quickening and although on paper it doesn't seem like much: baby is big enough and muscles are sensitive enough to pick up what's been happening for months now. It's nothing new, but for me it's something huge. Huge because to me it represents freedom and life.
Namely the freedom to not dread each upcoming doctor's appointment fearing the worst has happened without my realizing it. Freedom to be able to chat with the nurse who comes in to take my vital signs without becoming a weepy mess or angrily breaking down and yelling, "Just tell me there's a heartbeat!"
I want a bright spot at the end of these first 18 weeks of anxiety, a reminder that there's a chance everything will be okay, and that there is joy in my future. And so I wait, semi-patiently for my prayers to be answered, and I try not to be too anxious about timing I have no control over.
Of course that's not all I'm worried about. I find myself panicking about the world into which I'm bringing this child.
It's a world where gun violence is all too common; one where planes full of people disappear into thin air, a world where a woman's body is considered communal property, and where children are so unkind to each other that many seek refuge in self-harm. No matter what we talk about in confirmation class each Sunday some fresh-faced confirmand raises a hand and asks me quite earnestly, "Why does God let that happen? Why doesn't God do anything about evil?"
I don't have a great answer for them. All I can do is agree that this world is scary, people hurt other people, people hurt children, people suffer for seemingly no reason at all. All of us, long-time Christians, confirmands, the young, the old – we are all waiting for God to answer the question of evil, or at least to do something about it. And it is a dark anticipation, with no end in sight.
But lately I've been thinking of us as being halfway through. We do have a bright spot just around the corner.
It is Easter.
Easter is not just God's triumph over death and the grave. Easter was, and is, a blow to evil. God is always present despite evil, never leaving our sides and working to use even the darkest moments to further God's purpose and comforting us in our sorrow.
God's response to evil is Jesus Christ, a man whose love was stronger than the evil of death on a cross. From Christ's resurrection we learn that God's love can and will overcome evil. It WILL happen. It IS happening. And that is something to celebrate.
It might not mean much when you're in the midst of suffering, but in the right frame of mind it's a well-timed kick to remind you that God is here.
And so we wait, semi-patiently on prayers for an end of suffering to be answered, and we try not to be too anxious about timing we have no control over. At the end of each of our journeys, God wins, love wins, and suffering is overcome.
That much is certain.