Isaiah 30:18 (with expanded meanings from the Hebrew)
And therefore will the LORD (the self-existent) wait (tarry, long) that He may be gracious (to bend or stoop in kindness to an inferior, to favor, have pity upon, show mercy) unto you, and therefore (rightly) will be exalted (to be high actively, rise, be promoted, extol) that He may have mercy (to love, have compassion) upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment (justice) : blessed (happy) are all (the whole, any, every) they that wait (tarry, long) for Him.
The word “wait” begins and end the verse. The first time, it is applied to God, who waits for us to return to Him (vs. 15-17) so He can be kind to us. This may illustrate the give and take nature of our relationship with God. Our relationship is not simply a formula; it involves waiting and longing on both ends.
Also, it is interesting that God is exalted and recognized for who He is as He is merciful and gracious to us. Somehow, His justice fits in there two. The tension in all of that is inherent- that God is glorified in his mercy because He is a God of judgment. I guess His mercy would not be true mercy if there was no judgment. If there is not something to deserve, there is no mercy to get you out of what you deserve.
The expanded definitions of gracious and mercy intrigue me. Graciousness carries with it a clear status difference between the One who is gracious and the one who receives grace. Mercy carries with it no mention of status. In fact, mercy seems to indicate much closer-to-equal status between the mercy giver and receiver.
This is why I see it as a Christmas verse: it seems to be a picture of what God did in sending Jesus. He waited and waited to send Jesus- to be gracious and come down from on high, to stoop in kindness to us- then had mercy- loved us here on our level and had pity and compassion for us- as He was here. In that mercy and grace, the whole Gospel is proclaimed through the world to the glory- the exaltation- of God. He will bring judgment and justice. Those who waited for Jesus’ birth as well as we, who wait now for His return, are blessed and happy. We are blessed in the longing.