One week ago last night Miguel Cabrera hit career home run number 499 and the waiting began.  As the Tigers came home to play the Indians and then the Angels, Comerica Park filled with fans who were wishing they could see number 500 in person.  However, as this morning arrived and he was still at 499, I sense the fans growing a little restless and fatigued.

Waiting for something special to happen is not easy.  If you question me on this, just ask my 3.5 year-old granddaughter what she thinks!  Or ask yourself why you think road trips are filled with the question, “Are we there yet?”  The waiting becomes all the more difficult when it is stretched out by delays and all it is based upon are wishes.

The Tigers’ manager actually complained this week that the fans were so caught up in wishing each time Cabrera came to the plate that they forgot to cheer.  Instead, they became silent as they simply raised their cell phones to record the historic event.  Imagine standing in the batter’s box when you can’t hear a peep from a crowd of 30,000 fans.

Yet I understand what is taking place in the stands.  Like I said, waiting is not easy, and especially when it is stretched out by delays and all it is based upon are wishes.  Each time Miguel hits a long fly, the silence fades.  But when it lands in a glove or somewhere in foul territory, the cheers are replaced by groans.  And as the fans head home after another disappointing night, their restlessness grows … one can only wonder how long the large crowds will continue to flood the stadium.

Now apply this same concept to the COVID-19 pandemic.  How long have you been waiting for it to be over?  What do you think of the current delays caused by variants, booster shots, and the like?  How many people that you know are becoming restless and fatigued?

Did you know that the same thing happened to many Christians in the first century AD?  They were so anticipating Christ’s return that many stopped working, spending all day just looking into the sky waiting to see Jesus.  This prompted Paul to write, “We command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.  For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you. … as for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.” (2 Thessalonians 3.6-13) In the same way, we are not to be idle while waiting for things to change … the world needs us to fill the time by “doing good.”

A little earlier Paul had also addressed those whose waiting was sustained only by wistful wishing.  “We do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep … Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18) In other words, knowing of and believing in the resurrection of Jesus changes everything.

No matter if the topic is the pandemic or the end of our time on earth, we are not just wishing and waiting.  Rather we are alive with Christ Jesus, the Victor, who replaces our wistful wishing with sure and certain hope which empowers us to “encourage one another with his word.”  Like children on a road trip, we know the end of the story … we just don’t know the “when.”  And we also know what to say to those who ask, “Are we there yet?”

Now, as for number 500 – I expect it will come eventually, but it might not happen in Detroit

Wishing and Waiting