ShePonders: Another Arrival


“How did You know it was time? Is it ever the appropriate time to let go of a son?”
Dec_KelleyFour hundred years of waiting for a Messiah who never came. Malachi said, The day is coming … but no one arrived to save Israel.

The prophets were quiet in those long years, as if the Spirit had nothing more to say.

Wars raged in and around Israel’s borders. Revolts, martyrs, bloodletting in the streets. Screams marked the days; lament for the lost ones left the countryside limp. Jerusalem cried herself to sleep. So, maybe the years weren’t so silent after all.

It wasn’t a quiet vigil, but generations beating back oppressors, losing more than winning. The Promised Land became an occupied territory.

While the world turned in turmoil, only God stayed silent.


I don’t even know how to address God’s silence in the face of violence. Why didn’t God move across the Palestinian landscape with salvific strength and urgent stride?

When the Hebrews cried out from the brickyards of Egypt God heard, acted, delivered. Why then and not now? Is it possible that even God sat paralyzed by the mounting volume of misery? Was God crushed under the weight of sadness as good Jews left behind their plows to brandish swords?


What does it mean–waiting until the fullness of time?

Until more lives were crushed by brutal empires and cruel economies? Until enough wives turned into widows; enough children turned into orphans? Until the land groaned–her razed cities bent to the ground, fields of olive trees left smoldering and holy places desecrated?

What would the fullness of time look like–a world sufficiently broken and bruised?

I can recognize a ripe mango, blushing with red and yellow hues across its oblong shape. I can tell a ripe strawberry by the sweet perfume. I know a watermelon is ripe with two swift taps on its green belly. But I can’t discern when the time is right for God’s arrival; my senses fail me.


Apparently we suffer birth pangs. We endure a long labor amid all the expectation–pushing, stretching out of shape, screaming out for You to come. We aren’t silent.

We’re ready to push, eager to transition into the New Age the prophets promised. But Someone holds us back: “Not yet. It’s not time.”

Did You need to ready Yourself to relinquish Your Son? Were You holding on as long as You could before letting Him go into this convulsing world?

How did You know it was time? Is it ever the appropriate time to let go of a son? It always seems too long a wait for those languishing, hungry for deliverance. Relief comes to the devastated places late.

You make us wait and wade through the angst of abandonment. The truth is … we feel forgotten. Our timing and Yours often feel out of sync–no matter what the angels sing or pastors preach.


In our world, chemical weapons are deployed and dismantled. Civil unrest and outright warfare forces people from their homes into refugee camps where hope is in short supply. Typhoons devastate entire regions and aid is slow to come. Infant mortality rates are too high, gun violence numbers are too high; also the rate of soldiers returning home and committing suicide. And there are still occupied territories.

We remain sufficiently broken and bruised still.


But every time You come, we are relieved again. Every time we find energy to sing, to receive the good tidings anew and summon our mustard seed faith. Your deliverance is the only salve for our war-torn souls.

The hopes and fears of all the years, even this very year, are met in You again.

Sometimes we even start playing the music early in sweet anticipation of Another Arrival.


Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, 

And ransom captive Israel, 

That mourns in lonely exile here 

Until the Son of God appear. 

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 

Shall come to you, O Israel!

Kelley Nikondeha
Kelley is co-director and chief storyteller for Communities of Hope, a community development enterprise in Burundi. She is also the author of Adopted: The Sacrament of Belonging in a Fractured World (Eerdmans).
Kelley Nikondeha
Kelley Nikondeha

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