Isaiah 12:2-6 / Amos 9:8-15 / Luke 1:57-66
By Cathy Bartholomew
“I will restore David’s fallen shelter — I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins — and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the Lord, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord.”
Advent is about Waiting – waiting for the promise that is to come. “The days are coming” in our advent verse is an answer that screams WAITING, for me. It is about living “in the waiting”.
Sometimes it seems we live on the Sunny Side Of God’s Economy: We meet our goals; we lose those last few pounds, we discover that person we have secretly loved returns our affection; our sick child recovers; our boss gives us a raise we did not even ask for. During these seasons, it is tempting to bat around words like “God’s favor”, “Blessed by God”, etc.
However, most of the time we live in the Almost But Not Yet: The college debt we are sure we will be buried with; the Beloved we pine for that does not know we even exist; the hard work at the gym whilst the scale remains frozen.
Worse ~ sometimes we suffer great irretrievable loss while we are waiting: The fire that burns our family home with all its memories. A career is destroyed. Our public reputations are ruined irreparably. Our test comes back positive for that incurable disease. Mothers bury sons. Like Mary and Martha, we rebuke God saying, “Lord! Where have you been? If you had come, our loved one would still be alive!” I still do not know how to recover from that one. I only know when I weep, Jesus weeps with me.
But most of our life, we live in The Great In-Between. This is a different kind of hard place. This is the dark night of the soul where we almost want to spit on Those Living on The Sunny Side. We forget that we were once those “favored” people ourselves. We doubt we will ever be those people again. We imagine we have done something to deserve this plight. This is when we ask, like the psalmist, “Why do the wicked prosper?”
As I have lived in and out of these cycles of perceived reality, I have come to see the pattern. I used to ask, “God, when will you come?”
While I still do this from time to time, I find, as I have gotten older, that the problems have not changed, but the question has. Now I pray, “God, I can handle calamity. I can handle hard times, lost jobs, disappointments and setbacks, I just need to know one thing… Do you love me?
I know I can get through anything if I know You see me, love me, and know your grace is here – always here – even, and especially, amidst the often shitty circumstances of this life. I know I can hold my head a little higher; knowing that the God of the universe knows the number of hairs on my head, and loves me fiercely. This, for me, is the definition of grace. I want my problems solved. Lord. But I need your grace even more so.