I don't know about you, but I have never needed the hope of Advent like I have in 2023. It has been a year filled with grief and darkness. While it's been a gift to see God sustain us day by day, most of these days have held a lot more sorrow than joy.
My husband and I lost our first baby in January. Our church experienced unimaginable, senseless tragedy in March, something I will never be able to wrap my mind around. In May, we lost another baby. In between, there were family heartaches, house leaks, termites, countless doctor appointments, car problems, and honestly, a lot of days asking, "Why, God?" and praying, "Please just get me through this day." It is hard to even put this year into words, and I know many that have suffered far, far, far worse. The world has never felt so heavy.
I share all of that not to invite you to a pity party (I can think of far more fun parties to attend), but to say that the darkest days of my life so far have shown me that there is no better news than the coming of Christ. Advent gives us the hope for days with no school shootings, no tragedy, and no pain, the hope of reuniting with the babies we never got to hold and the loved ones we greatly miss, the hope of no phone calls with bad news, and the hope of no tears. But in the meantime, as we wait for that glorious day when our darkest days will be redeemed, we have hope for today because He is with us.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:23
Tim Keller said, "The doctrine is this: God comes in. He comes incarnate, he comes in our flesh. He comes into our humanity, into our vulnerability, into our history, into our reality. God comes in.” This is the great news of Advent, the ultimate thrill of hope: that God is with us.
He is with us when we mourn. He is with us when we long for heaven. He is with us when we cry out. He is with us when we feel confused. He is with us amidst every tear. He is with us on our worst days, our most sleepless nights, and amidst our hardest years.
Advent isn't just hope for Christmas morning. It wasn't just hope for Bethlehem. It's hope for today and for tomorrow. It's hope for the new mom, the empty nester, and the one longing to be a mom. It's hope for the overworked, the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, and the grief-stricken. It's hope for the one feeling merry and the one longing to be married and the one whose marriage is hanging by a thread. Why is that? Because He is with us.
The story of Advent ended neither in a manger nor on a cross. He has come, He is coming again, and in the meantime, He is with us!