“Can 2020 just be over already?” a friend of mine stated recently. I nodded and thought about the meme someone texted me with the heading: “If 2020 were a slide.” The picture is of a child at the top of a slide, but the slide is a cheese grater. Yikes. We’ve all thought it, said it, or heard it…
“I’m over this.”
“It’s hard to look forward to anything.”
“I can’t keep this up.”
No matter where you are in the world, no matter what restrictions are in place or how much you’ve personally been affected by the pandemic, the fatigue is real. When I check in with friends in Thailand, Kenya, Ireland, China, or Brazil, it feels like a dark cloud hovers over the conversations. And as an American public health nurse, currently living in one of the first, hard-hit cities on the west coast, I see first hand the toll this virus has taken on my patients, their families, and my colleagues. I try and anticipate that things will get better. I say “TRY,” because my anticipation tank is fairly empty. People are struggling everywhere: financially, mentally, relationally, spiritually.
It’s not just the pandemic– it’s brokenness, pride, indifference, and fear that has always been around us, but seems to be amplified even more by varying degrees of separation and the unknown. We live in a world of sin, and it’s stressful! Though many of us know what it is like to work under layers of stress– we’ve learned how to navigate cultural differences, political ideologies, and misperceptions– we can quickly get discouraged. We advocate, we witness, we protect, we fall down, we live and we learn. We are humbled, and hope again. We anticipate the Hope of the World, even in our weariness. Don’t we?
I’ll be the first to admit– it’s been hard to hope for anything good during this season. I’m distanced and disconnected from people I love and care about. I’ve been pretty discouraged, and have had a difficult time focusing on the sacred this season. And yet…
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 8:20)
It is Advent; we have entered into a season of anticipating our Savior’s arrival, God with us, our Redeemer. Can you feel it? Are you so tired, so “over it,” that the very idea of “anticipation” makes you shrug? Though I feel weary and, on some days hope is but an ember, advent does remind me that I’m not alone in my anticipation of the Prince of Peace. I groan, I pray, I long for my Savior’s healing hand on this wounded world. Taking a deep breath, I recenter my heart and my mind on the hope I cling to when the world around me feels desolate. I recall the words from “O Holy Night”:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Oh how I need that– that new and glorious morn. As I anticipate a new morning, I am challenged to do what Christ calls us to do– to love God and to love others. I am challenged to renew my mind– to think on Christ and his love not just for me, but for the whole world…
Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is Love and His gospel is Peace;
Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Christ came to live among us! He came, so that we can truly live in freedom. This is a comfort to me, and helps me remember I have the ability, through Christ, to bring love, hope, and peace into a weary world. Of course, Christ is no stranger to my weaknesses or my weariness. He knows my needs. But in faith, I anticipate Christ will work in me and in the world; this is what keeps my advent-anticipation alive!
If you are weary, unmotivated, annoyed, distraught, grieving, or indifferent… take a moment. Sit with your thoughts, and reflect on that Holy Night long ago. Anticipate Jesus, Emmanuel. And as you pause, may you experience Christ’s peace and a sense of renewed hope. May you praise His Holy Name! Amen and amen.
Christ is the Lord, O praise His Name forever
His power and glory, Evermore proclaim!
What are you anticipating during this season of advent? How are you doing?
Share with us a scripture, or line from a song that is sparking hope or a sense of anticipation in your life today!
*O Holy Night, composed by Adolphe Adam