Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
In the liturgical calendar of the Church there are few times quite as beautiful as the Advent Season. Its entire purpose is a celebration of God’s promise to us, a celebration of God’s hope for us. Even as it leads to Christmas, and the blessed miracle of the birth of Christ, the significance of Advent on its own is a wondrous thing when you consider that even as humanity fell to the temptation of sin, death and the Devil, our Heavenly Father was there with the Advent promise, (Genesis 3:16) a covenant between Him and Mankind that would carry generations of His children to their glorious home.
But then this is the grace and the love of God, it rests in the blessed assurances that even when it seems to go wrong, when it all seems to go bad, God is there for us. Ever patient, filled with mercy, He has never abandoned us. Though our disobedience, our sin and vice has threatened to tear us from Him, He draws is nearer, closer to Him, refusing to give up on us. All that is required of us is faith.
This is the purpose and the meaning behind the Advent, the relationship between our faith and God’s promises. It reminds us that salvation comes by grace through faith, not the ancient covenant of works that we were unable to abide in. There is nothing for us to boost in because our hope rests in trust, not in acts we can perform. (Ephesians 2:8-9) It reminds us then that our help, it’s in the name of The Lord, the God who never fails us our forsakes us, (Joshua 1:5) who never abandons us or leaves us, the God who is unchanging in His Word and His love.
Perhaps, at times, His help can seem far from you. There are moments when, in your hurt and your hardship, your pain and your sorrow, you are left to wonder where is God in all of this. You want to believe that He is there but He just seems so far distant and far removed from the struggles you are facing, and the troubles that are before you. There are those moments when it feels as if the world is changing all around you and all you want is the fulfillment of His promises of hope and healing for your life. The world just seems to be so overwhelming, the stress and the burdens feel as if they are putting too much pressure on you, crushing you under its weight.
God’s plan, God’s design, it rarely happens when we want it to but it always happens when it needs to. It happens according to an order He understands in order to best serve you, to instruct you, to strengthen you, to edify and uplift you. The children of Israel waited for generation after generation for the coming Messiah, searching and longing for his arrival to lead them to the blessed hope of God. They struggled with countless hardships and temptations as they waited for the fulfillment of God’s promises and the new covenant that it would bring. Yet God could not be rushed, nor could His plan be hurried along regardless of the circumstances or the situation. After all, God understands better than us the nature of timing, weaving it all together to meet His purpose.
Advent reminds us that sometimes we need to wait patiently on the Lord, not as a test or because He just isn’t there, not because He is too busy for you or isn’t interested in what you are going through, not because He isn’t listening or anything else. It’s because His timing is perfect and all good things, all that you need, all that is meant to help you and give you hope, it’s right there, waiting to happen, waiting to be discovered, it’s just that God understands the timing of when it needs to happen to bring you the peace, the comfort and the healing that’s going to help you the most, that is going to strengthen you the most. After all, fashioned by His hand, crafted by His grand design, He not only knows what you need better than you know for yourself, He understands when and how you need it to grow and to prosper, to be preserved according to His great love and encompassing mercy.
This is the wonder of God’s grace given for you; it is built upon the hope of anticipation, strengthened by our own need. It’s there for you even when you stumble and trip, and it is centered on you with a keen understanding of who you are in eagerness towards your redemption and salvation. What’s more is that He doesn’t just promise you His help, and leave it at that. Even as you wait, even as you look, wondering at its fulfillment He is there with you, beside you with every step you take to remind you that you are loved, that you are never forgotten or left behind by Him. He deals not just in hope but in practical hope for your life and growth.
Even if it isn’t time for the fullness of His plan to be revealed or drawn to completeness, He has a series of smaller plans and points to help us grow and prosper, leading us to where we need to be for it all to come to fruition according to His design. That’s the bond that we have with our God, a bond that He weaved with the promise of the Savior, and that He strengthens daily as He draws us nearer and closer to Him.
As you meditate on the Advent of our Lord, seeking and imploring the grace and peace of the Spirit, remember that God teaches us patience through our faith. He teaches us that it is His timing is perfect, not ours, and that all comes to pass when it’s meant to, when it is right. Sometimes this means measure of trust beyond what we think we are capable of. In God and by His hand leading us we are capable of so much more than we know or knew possible as He guides us and protects us each and every step of the way. It just takes putting it in His hands, like the saints of old who waited on the promises of the Messiah, knowing that God would be good and faithful to them, holding them and drawing them to Him, remembering that trusting in God’s promises is as much about us relying on Him in good and bad as it is about Him standing steadfast with us, fulfilling His commitments to us.
Trust in His signs, freedom from bondage and captivity follow His promises as He uplifts and edifies you in His love. Whatever struggles you may face have faith and hold fast, as it has been, and always will be, better days will come to those who give themselves over to Him, waiting on His signs and wonders.
Lord, grant this unto us all.
Now may the peace of The Lord, that peace that transcends all human understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting, Amen.