"He waited another seven days, and again he sent out the dove from the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent out the dove; and it did not return to him any more." - Genesis 8:10-12
Comedy, they say, equals tragedy plus time. The comedian who misjudges those variables may find the crowd turning against her with cries of "too soon!" Noah, I'm sure, couldn't sing "Rise and Shine" for years after the flood.
It's no accident that the story of the ark shows up during this season of waiting and hope. What better symbol of the pain of patient expectation than a man cooped up in a floating zoo for forty days? It's a wonder Noah can hold off a week between dove releases.
In our personal tragedies, too, we can be tempted to seek resolution and healing prematurely. It's uncomfortable to be off balance and at sea, to live with a constant reminder of all that we've lost. But if we try to exit the ark too soon, to get on with our lives like normal, we soon find ourselves drowning.
Like the world that waits in Advent for redemption, in the darkness of the ark, God is working. In our seasons of tragic waiting, in ways we may not immediately recognize, we are being healed and brought back to solid ground.
Until then, we just have to hunker down in the ark and think, "Someday I will laugh at this."
Great Transformer, may these tears of grief become tears of joy in your time.
Small Group Discussion
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Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.