After the typhoon of ice last month, I found it especially difficult to pray. As I was talking to my wife, Jennie, about it, she shared an analogy: "When you button a shirt and start in the middle, it's easy to get off track. You have to start at the top in order for everything to line up. And the top button amidst all the unknown is that God is always good."
God is good. Yet life seems so tragic. I wish God stopped tragedy. Why doesn't he steer hurricanes away from inhabited Islands? Why does he let cancer and sickness suddenly steal a life? If it has to, why can't it just take the sex-trafficker and leave the loving husband's alone? Is he really good?
It's Advent, and the church waits on Christ. We wait for the king to reclaim our homeland. We wait for death to surrender its stronghold; for the dragon to be dispensed.
Let our collective and individual sorrows, immense and terrible as they are, remind us that we are on a mission, and are in desperate need of help. We are homeless -- for a time -- caught out in the cold. But, Christ! He has returned to lead his people into a sorrow-less future. The advent of our Savior is the hope of the world.
Ours is not a fools hope -- the grasping after a ghost -- but the flesh and blood of incarnate God plunged into our disease, the cross a syringe, his blood our antidote. In the words of Peter Kreeft,
Christ doesn't give us this bloody road without first having travelled it himself… God's answer to our pain was not a philosophy, but a person. Instead of telling us why not to weep, he wept, and transformed human tears into divine tears… He suffered for us not to make our sufferings go away, but to make them enter him – to make them his own. (Kreeft, Making Sense Out of Suffering)
It may seem a despondent topic for Advent reflection, but realize trifling afflictions require trifling remedies. Our affliction is anything but trifling, it it truly and totally tremendous. It is tyrannical. It is unrelenting. But, Christ! Our tremendous suffering requires a tremendous Savior. He is more unrelenting, and tyranny will bow to his word.
Hope in Christ. We are homeless for a time, and death may win the day. But, Christ! He has come. He will come again. He will wipe every tear from our eyes. He is the one about whom the prophets spoke. He is love. He is joy. He is peace. He is purity. He is the complete, trustworthy, definitive revelation of the holy goodness of our God. He is the only King.