Read and pray through Genesis, chapter 38.

Introduction | The Christmas story begins with Jesus’ family tree. And over these next few weeks of Advent, we are looking more closely at the four women highlighted in Jesus’ lineage as recorded by Matthew in his gospel: “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham…” (Matthew 1:1). If you’re new to this devotional, we encourage you to read the Introduction to this series that explains both the structure and purpose of Matthew’s genealogy. The overall focus of this devotional is addressed as well. You can find the Introduction to this devotional series by clicking here.

Reflection | As we enter the season of Advent, of “waiting”, I think of the waiting that Tamar went through in her life; after each husband proved wicked, she became widowed twice, and her Father-in-law, Judah sent her away, back to her father’s household with no intention of actually letting her marry his last son. Her very livelihood rested upon the shoulders of Judah, to do the right thing, but I cannot help but think of Tamar as she sat in a period of waiting where she waited to see if things truly were going to get better.

She soon saw that Judah had never intended to retrieve her to marry Shelah. When the opportunity to try and right her position in the society of the time presents itself,  she bravely takes that opportunity to right the injustice done to her in the denial of her protections and provisions. Again, she waits after being with Judah, to see if her plan to restore herself will work out. Even though she is accused of promiscuity at first, she is eventually found innocent with her proof that what she has done is legitimate and her actions are even called “righteous” by Judah himself as he admits fault for what he had done.

More than that, what we see is that, through her actions, she paves the way for the redemption of Judah, and subsequently to the larger story of redemption, as Judah wouldn’t have produced the lineage to King David, and to Jesus, without her. To me, it is no accident that Tamar, as she bravely and boldly does what she needs to do to make things right, is also part of the larger story of redemption. God’s redemption story is weaved into the messiness of Tamar’s story, and His faithfulness to continuing the lineage of the promised Messiah is seen now as we look back at her story.

Tamar’s story reminds us of the longing for rescue, for our redemption, and our salvation, when we so desperately need it most. Advent is a time of “waiting” for the coming of Jesus, as we celebrate His birth. Yet, we can forget what it means to wait for our promised redemption, our promised Messiah. We know the excruciating task of what real waiting is, and I am not talking about having to wait for the long drive thru to get your peppermint mocha at Starbucks. I am talking about waiting in the hardest of times, where we long for more, long for a solution or an  answer. Waiting for situations that seem too bleak to be redeemed. Waiting for the person who wronged us to show remorse and make things right. Waiting for a better prognosis when facing a health crisis. Waiting for someone to see your suffering as your life falls to pieces. Waiting for a global pandemic to end, so that financially, socially, physically and emotionally we can be secure again. Waiting can be painful, waiting can be agonizing, waiting can be depressing, and waiting can end not in the way we planned.

In spite of all of that, waiting can still be a hopeful expectation for what is to come, waiting can be an action in which we trust in the Lord and what he plans, and waiting can be continuing to lean into goodness even when everything around us is bad. Waiting doesn’t have to be passive, as we see with Tamar and her actions that moved with God’s grand plan for redemption. In addition, in this time where Tamar may have felt everyone had abandoned her, God never did. That same reminder, that God did not abandon Tamar in her time of waiting, is true for us, too. We have a God who never leaves us, especially in our times of need, and that can move our waiting in desperation to waiting in hope. Remarkably, waiting can call us to move and be moved by the faithfulness of God, and be part of His plan for good. Tamar didn’t know at the time what God was doing through her and through her situation, but we now see it. We see her place in the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Matthew. We see her place in the story of redemption. We too, can be part of the story of God’s redemption, when we allow our seasons of waiting upon the Lord to point back to His faithfulness, grace, and mercy. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Don’t let this season of Advent, of “waiting” for the coming of Jesus, our salvation and hope, be one in which you miss the beauty of waiting in hopeful expectation. Lean into it as a time to remind you of the One who you are waiting for, and the promises He brings. We may not know how our current seasons of waiting will end, but we do know how the larger story of our redemption ends, and that is something worth waiting for.

Consider & Discuss | What season of waiting are you currently in? How do you see God at work currently in that season of waiting? How can you look to the story of Tamar to remind you that God continues to be faithful, even in excruciating seasons of waiting? How can you look at this season of Advent with fresh eyes and “hopeful expectation”?

Prayer Focus | Jesus, as we enter into this Advent season, may we be reminded of the promises fulfilled through your birth. That we have a God who is willing to come down and dwell among us, in order to save us, just as you planned all along. May we rest upon you in the waiting, in the not knowing, but trusting that you are still at work. Let us be reminded of hopeful expectations even when things seem bleak. May we be in awe of your actions throughout scripture, and through our own lives. Thank you for your faithfulness and thank you for your willingness to become flesh and dwell among us. May we be reminded by your Incarnation, that you are not far from us. Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!
Mary Taylor