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by Em Hazeldean

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2: 20

This advent I’m tired. I’m trying to slow my busy brain, and trying to find the brakes but some days I feel like the pressures and trials of adulting are squeezing my joy and stealing my peace. When my faith feels tired and clinging to hope makes my fingernails hurt. The God who came to us wrapped in swaddling cloth and clothed in human flesh would ask me to cast my cares and I ask if I can cast the list of to-do’s as well.

And advent is supposed to be about the stillness and the slowing and the anticipation of our Saviour but my mind doesn’t still and my heart won’t slow.

How do I protect my faith? My peace? How do I prepare room for the King, when hope fades and my soul wonders if He’ll even come?

And then this: “The sheep herders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen. It turned out exactly the way they’d been told.”

The shepherds were gathered in the night. Watching over their sheep. Huddled together for warmth under an expanse of twinkle lights against the black sky. In our darkest times we need to huddle with others. To share warmth, to feel hope radiate from them to lift our spirits and create an atmosphere of faith.

Then a whole angel choir in front of them in the pastures, can you even imagine? God’s glory, shining and flashing around them, lighting up the darkness.

They’d been told that a Saviour had come – God had arrived. He’d come not as a King on a throne, or as spirit but as a touchable, visible, tangible being. As a baby. The scent of newborn and frankincense lingered, as He lay wrapped in cloth in a manger in the outskirts of town.

Yet still the sheep herders praised God for all they’d heard and seen.

They believed. They believed that what the angels had spoken was true; they believed the promise of their Saviour, the Messiah.

He hadn’t yet saved the world – He was a tiny baby, swaddled, reliant on the nurture of His mother. But they believed and they praised Him.

Sometimes I find it hard to reconcile the promise to its fulfilment.

The in-between where it just seems like God won’t come.

When doubt comes and my heart whispers desperate prayers – did You promise? Was the promise for me? Did I hear wrong? Will You come?

When there’s brokenness, can we still praise God for all we’ve heard and seen?

When there’s lack, are we still glorifying God for what He’s already done – even if the fulfillment of the promise has not yet come?

It’s so easy to feel disheartened, so easy to want to quit when the promise hasn’t arrived. In the advent, in the waiting we can be still and know. We can wait, pregnant with hope, heavy with expectancy.

“That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”
Romans 8 (The Message)

Every detail of our lives is worked into something good.

The not-so-good, the messy and the broken: let loose and praise Him anyway.

The lack and the hope: let loose and praise Him anyway.

A promise unfulfilled: let loose and praise Him anyway.

We’ve heard He’s good, we’ve seen His goodness.

Let’s praise Him in the waiting.

Em is a writer and communicator who lives in a seaside town in Western Australia. Wife to a builder-man and mama to three kiddos, her perfect day involves fresh-brewed coffee, a quiet corner and a good book. You can find Em online at www.emhazeldean.com, facebook.com/emhazeldeanblog or instagram.com/em.hazeldean

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