“We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”
~ C. S. Lewis
My father read this quote to me today and we both laughed out loud at how spot on it that was for both of us. It reminded me of a conversation I had with a dear friend a few months ago about trust. She said, “Stephanie, I don’t think you have a problem trusting in God. I think you just don’t trust that he’s going to make things easy/better.” Again, spot on.
I’ve been wrestling some things for quite some time, friends. One of them is how to continue to hope and trust with joy for good things. I find myself dreading the future, afraid of what’s coming next instead of trusting that the Lord will provide good things for me and for my family.
After this crazy, horrible, year, one that has been difficult for just about all of us, I want to be honest with you: the once zealous, bible verse spouting, everything seems black / white girl has been transformed into soul weary, Bible verse clinging but everything seems a whole lot harder than I thought it would be, mama. The truth of the gospel hasn’t changed, but I have. And often, on the bad days, that change doesn’t feel very good. On the days when it’s a struggle to observe/join in with young people as they pour out passionate praise to God (because I used to do that when I was their age) I actually think to myself, “Look what happened to me! I wonder what disappointments lie ahead for them and if they’ll be able to make it through.” My. Actual. Thoughts.
Too honest? Don’t stop reading. I have good news.
I write these things to you, not because my faith is failing, but to let you know that I think I’m on the road to healing. Last week, light and clarity came: the inner groanings in my spirit? Advent.
This waiting, this longing, this desperate cry for a Savior to come and make all things new. . . those desires have been burning inside of me stronger than ever. What I have considered my defeat has actually been what has led me to what I believe will be my greatest victory: the ability to trust and hope for good things from my heavenly father, even in the middle of really hard / perplexing / painful seasons.
I was in a discussion recently with a biblical scholar about Israel (actually, Judah) and the Babylonian Exile—I don’t know much about it, honestly, so I asked a few questions. The answers I received weren’t very encouraging or comforting. They were: Judah was taken captive. They saw their temple being burned, their friends butchered and raped. Most died in exile, waiting for deliverance, never seeing it. I thought, wow. That doesn’t sound like the peace and prosperity, “God always blesses his people with good things” gospel I have heard so often in my life.
But . . . Advent.
I’m sitting here, writing to you, with tears in my eyes, remembering Isaiah 9:6,
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
The darkness . . . the waiting. It is all Advent. There’s a purpose for it.
Christ has already come, but he’s coming again. We can’t lose heart. We can’t give up. We are not yet complete.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
God’s people have not always seen the victories they have longed for on this side of eternity, because . . . Advent. If you’re unsure about this, read Hebrews. It’s become my favorite book of the Bible because it reminds me that God has been present with his people through every difficult situation since the beginning of time.
So what do we do while we wait? We choose to immerse ourselves in our Father’s love. We choose to believe that he has our best interest at heart—not just his, but ours. We choose to remember our gifts and our callings, and most importantly, God’s purpose for them.
We have been given all we need to be overcomers in the most difficult of days. We have each other and we have his Holy Spirit. So, hold on, dear ones! Don’t lose heart in your struggle. You’re in Advent. Keep waiting in expectation. Don’t allow yourself to give in to the feelings of dread. Hold on to your faith, like Hezekiah. Cling to God’s promises and be prepared to receive them so you recognize your blessing when it walks through your door, like Elizabeth did when Mary walked through her door carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. God is still on the throne. He is still watching over his word to perform it. He still has a plan and will see it through. Remain in him and stay part of it.
Remember the gospel:
“That we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. . . salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1
May the God of peace shine into our darkness and breathe life this Christmas!
Your fellow traveler,
“When we are faithless, he remains faithful.” 2 Timothy 2:13