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ADVENT: Hope for Dark Days

advent wreathADVENT. As Rene, our pastor, explained its meaning Saturday night, joy welled in my heart. As believers, we have not one, but TWO Advents, or “arrivals”, to celebrate.

First, “… the Word became human and made his home among us.” (John 1:14a, NLT) The God of the universe, who created and sustains all things, didn’t wait for us to try to climb up to Him but came down to our level as a helpless baby who would suffer and die to make us right with Him. He is our “Wonderful Counselor,” and we can trust him to GUIDE us into all truth (John 16:13).

I’ve experienced that guidance. Every chance she got, Jan* stabbed me in the back, denigrating my management style, expectations, and capabilities. A “buddy” to the company President, she babysat his children. I knew I couldn’t win in that realm. I agonized over how to respond, how to improve our relationship, how to defend myself against her claims.

For weeks I drove to a nearby McDonald’s daily for lunch. Ordering my chicken salad and diet coke, I parked across the street from a beautiful, spreading oak tree and read the Psalms. Every day God seemed to repeat the same message to me—-this was not my battle.

Psalm 34:19 – “The righteous face many troubles, but the LORD rescues them from each and every one.”
Psalm 40:13-14: “Please, LORD, rescue me! Come quickly, LORD, and help me. May those who try to destroy me be humiliated and put to shame. May those who take delight in my trouble be turned back in disgrace.”

I returned to the office, renewed and strengthened. Finally Jan, who handled payroll, was transferred to the accounting department. Several weeks later her new manager, auditing the books, discovered Jan had paid herself nine extra weeks’ pay over the prior two years. Learning she had stolen from him ended any “buddy” relationship with the President, and Jan was fired.

God had indeed guided and vindicated me.

But His rule in our hearts, His guidance and peace, are not the end. We look forward with anticipation to His Second Advent, when Christ will come again to establish His Kingdom. Our world is in constant crisis. Race riots, political instability, ethnic wars, persecution of Christians, selfishness, hatred and violence are prevalent. But when He returns “…the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

What hope. What anticipation. We celebrate Advent because it reminds us of Jesus’ first coming and the hope of His second return. Like a child watching the number of packages grow under the Christmas tree, our hearts beat faster when we remember what Jesus has done in binding us to Himself following His first coming; and what He will do when He returns, triumphant, for His Bride, the Church.

Rene had us repeat it with him, and I say it again: “The darkness will not last.” Glory will come!

*Name has been changed.

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