The Difference Between Waiting and Wondering

Marge Fenelon Advent

Advent is here.

Hard to believe, at least for me. This year has gone by so very fast!

That’s exactly why I’m eager to get into the Advent spirit. Advent is all about waiting – waiting, yearning, and holding back in the sense of holding back on the Christmas festivities.

I need that right now. Probably you do as well. In fact, I think the whole world needs it, but that’s fodder for another blog post.

Thinking about Advent has me playing word games in my head, and two words I’ve been playing with are “waiting” and “wondering.” Although we sometimes interchange the two, especially at this time of year, there’s a distinct difference between them.

To me, “wondering” implies a degree of uncertainty. You wonder what you’ll get for Christmas or how Aunt Lizzie will enjoy the tea set you’re giving her. You wonder what the weather will be a you travel or if you’ll find a tree that’s the right size for your living room.

True, “wondering” also can mean to be in amazement or awe of something. That’s still quite different from “waiting.”

Waiting, on the other hand, implies a degree of certainty. You wait for something you know exists. You wait for Christmas morning so you can open your gifts. You wait to be together with family and friends.

You wait for the coming of the Savior.

That’s what we do in Advent. We wait through the darkness for the Light. We wait because we know that he will fulfill his promise. We wait for him to be born once again in our hearts. We don’t wonder whether or not he’ll come; we know he will and so we wait for him.

Mary waited during the First Advent. She waited, but first she wondered.

Upon arriving, the messenger said to her: “Rejoice, O highly favored daughter! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” She was deeply troubled by his words, and wondered what his greeting meant. The messenger went on to say to her: “Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God You shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end.” (Lk 1:28-31)

Mary wondered about one thing only: how would God effect this great miracle since she’d taken a vow of virginity? She didn’t wonder if, when, or why it would happen.  She knew it would happen because God is true to his word. She merely wondered how she could be instrumental in following God’s plan.

She knew, based on the angel’s explanation, that the Redeemer would be conceived in her womb and born to save the world.

And so she waited.

We have that same guarantee.

And so we do not wonder, but rather we wait.

That is Advent.

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