As a mom, sometimes the most difficult thing you can do, is watch your kids make mistakes. The desire to run in and fix it is very over powering, but as they age, you simply can’t fix it for them any more. This is especially difficult when you see your kiddo suffering. Parents see their kids wrestle with depression, substance abuse, self harm, fitting in, saying no… What a long list of junk that can invade the lives of our most precious gifts.
As I was considering all of the feelings parents hold upon their shoulders simply in an act of loving their child, I was burdened with the thought, “watching a loved one die.” Sometimes that is what it feel like. Yes, we do see our friends and family members sick and traumatized from diseases like cancer, these aliments are horrendous, but equally how do we give voice to the pain of watching a loved one die emotionally or even spiritually? How do we cry out with the weight of watching the raw parts of life consume those who we love?
Heavy stuff to consider and as is my process, I stop to consider just who Christ is, and the reflective thought which came next was tremendous also, “How difficult it must have been for Jesus to watch his people, God’s people, reject him, over and over; Reject his voice, reject his teaching, reject his compassion, and reject his love. How hard was it for Jesus to watch the people he loved make decisions that were harmful, not just to themselves as individuals, but to the whole community? How painful was it for him to watch his people choose destruction. I wondered if his eyes were sad and heavy, like many parents I have encountered? I wondered what burden his shoulders might have carried?
Carrying heavy loads, sometimes they can feel like a death sentence, as we cautiously take one step after another, just praying that things don’t explode or throw our sense of any remaining balance out of wack. And as parents we sometimes cling desperately to anything we can hold on to. Looking for signs of hope. Like the faint smile that comes across their face, when you know they have been suffering or ill. What a gift of joy. This small subtle measure of life in the midst of what has been burdening their hearts.
Now while I am speaking about children, I believe this is a universal truth for all of our loved ones. Imagine the aging parent who just doesn’t remember any more. Or the spouse who suffers from depression, or PTSD. In all of these situations we are faced with the fact that we are waiting with them in the midst of…
Maybe it feels like waiting in the midst of death, because the trauma is so great, that we only see darkness. But maybe it feels like waiting in the midst of hope, because there is just a sliver of light, that we can see in that awkward smile.
As I write, I think about this in terms of the advents season. Advent is a time of waiting. Advent is a practice of remembering, not just that God came to us once, but that God will come to us again. It is a practice of being patient and relying on God to be for us in the midst of places that are hard and difficult, that feel like death, in places that are dark. And it is the practice of looking for hope, of waiting on hope.
For many people in the first century AD, God was a distant sound. Yes, there were religious practices and traditions that contributed to a sense of order and connection, but when we investigate the bible, we will see there are about 400 years between the speaking of the last prophet, Malachi, and the beginning of the new testament. 400 years of what scholars call the intertestamental period. And in that time frame, the Israelite people were conquered and ruled by 6 different empires and they struggled to maintain their way of life as people of God, in the face of political and governmental forces.
All of these factors, plus so many more that I cannot name here, all contributed to the deep sense of waiting, and hoping by the people of God. Waiting and hoping for God to set the record straight, to make the bad situation good, to restore justice, and bring healing.
They had their advent, and now we do too. So it is with profound awe that we, in the midst of hardships, that can feel like waiting in death, that we are aloud to instead wait in hope, because of a servant, a savior, that brings us life.
42 1-4 “Take a good look at my servant. I’m backing him to the hilt.He’s the one I chose, and I couldn’t be more pleased with him. I’ve bathed him with my Spirit, my life. He’ll set everything right among the nations. He won’t call attention to what he does with loud speeches or gaudy parades. He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right. He won’t tire out and quit. He won’t be stopped until he’s finished his work—to set things right on earth. Far-flung ocean is lands wait expectantly for his teaching.”
5-9 God’s Message, the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,laid out the earth and all that grows from it, Who breathes life into earth’s people,makes them alive with his own life:“I am God. I have called you to live right and well. I have taken responsibility for you, kept you safe. I have set you among my people to bind them to me, and provided you as a lighthouse to the nations, To make a start at bringing people into the open, into light:opening blind eyes,releasing prisoners from dungeons,emptying the dark prisons.I am God. That’s my name. I don’t franchise my glory,don’t endorse the no-god idols.Take note:The earlier predictions of judgment have been fulfilled. I’m announcing the new salvation work.Before it bursts on the scene,I’m telling you all about it.” (Isaiah 42:1-9)