We got very sad news this week. A dear friend–a man who was in our wedding, who was an important friend to my husband, a man who charmed everyone he met, and who had a tremendous heart–he took his own life last week. It came as a total shock. We were unfortunately unable to travel for the funeral, and the last few days have been marked for us by deep sadness. It has been hard to fathom something so tragic. He was just such a good man. We keep saying it over and over. We’ve been praying for his family, grieving his loss, and trying to keep going through the day to day when so much of it feels so small.
Perhaps it is a good thing that we find ourselves in the season of Advent as we grapple with this.
Things feel weighty and we look around and hope feels difficult. We keep seeing things in the world and things around us breaking. Prices have doubled on goods here in the last few months and peoples salaries haven’t. We had two refugee friends at the end of last month run out of money and had no food to get through the last few days of the month before they got paid. A dear friend here who finally had some improvements in her health, has taken a turn for the worst and is not doing well. Wars are unceasing, hate is rampant, and there is so much hurt everywhere I look. There are days that I have to stay off of social media because I end up crying on my keyboard, broken over the brokenness.
Some days I look around and I ask the Lord to come soon. To restore all of this to himself. To bind up the brokenhearted. I help write a case letter for a woman who doesn’t know if two of her five children are alive or dead, because she hasn’t been able to find them since they all fled the day her village was attacked in 2013 by rebels. I look at the friend who lost his baby. A friend shows me scars on his legs from being tortured for his faith. And I pray, “Lord, come soon.”
I am one in a long, long list of humanity wishing, waiting, and longing. That’s what the whole season of Advent is about. Waiting for the Savior to come. So much around us is breaking and we ache for restoration. It’s the season we sit in this longing, this brokenness, and…wait.
In our waiting, we read the promises. And Advent nudges us to look up. To the one who is coming to restore this broken place and end our waiting and longing. And he did come, God became flesh and came to live among us. The Jews lived and waited in anticipation of the Messiahs birth. And he came.
While we celebrate his coming at Christmas, we also acknowledge that we are still hurting and those around us are hurting. We are still waiting, with hope, for Christ to come again in glory to finally restore us to himself. We rejoice that he came. And we still wait and hope and long for his full coming.
Advent reminds us that waiting is not in vain, that God does not abandon his people, and that while the world still hurts us, the one who will meet all of our needs, forever, is coming.
As we wait, as we hurt while we wait, let’s remember that we hurt together. We are each fighting a hard battle. In our hurts are opportunities to connect with others who are hurting. Connection is our only chance to make it through while we wait, and the only way we can share the hope we have. Let us wait well by being about our Father’s business. By using hurt for connection, by caring for the weak, the poor, the heartbroken, the downtrodden.
“In labor all creation groans till fear and hatred cease,
Till human hearts come to believe: In Christ alone is peace.
In labor all creation groans till prejudice shall cease,
Till every race and tribe and tongue in Christ will live in peace.
In labor all creation groans till rape and murder cease,
Till women walk by night unharmed and Christ is this world’s peace.
In labor all creation groans till false divisions cease,
Till enemies are reconciled in Christ who is our peace.”
(“In Labor All Creation Groans” Delores Hufner) Recommended version for listening (and my husbands current musical obsession) here.