God’s promise is there, waiting to be spring forth

It’s crazy. We live in a world where it seems as if life is suddenly cheap. It’s easier to get a gun than to see a doctor in many places. There’s something wrong with that. It seems as if every day we hear or read about some new atrocity rising up to replace the one from the previous day. Unless, of course it’s not quite as bad, then the old will remain until some new even worse or more exciting tragedy shows up. Sometimes I don’t want to turn on my TV or computer; I don’t need, I don’t want, to see what new terrible thing has happened.

This is a time of year when we are supposed to be joyful. It doesn’t seem possible. It doesn’t seem right, appropriate, even decent. How are we supposed to find joy when everything going on around us seems so dark? How are we supposed to look forward with hope, when the dreams and hopes of so many have been so brutally snuffed out? Our faith, our traditions and our calendar call us to cry out, “rejoice,” when our hearts want to cry out, “Where is God?”

Yet, as people of faith we look to a God and savior who spoke and light scattered the darkness. A God who breaks the chains of oppression and sets people free. A savior who cured the sick, healed the lame, raised the dead. A God who declares that death is not the end.

It’s not about denying the reality that terrible things happen, ignoring the tragedies around us. It’s also not about saying that it’s all in God’s plan, or that God will make something good out of the bad. It’s about proclaiming that no amount of darkness, no amount of evil, no amount of tragedy can ever diminish, remove or stop the promise of God – that God would come, that God will rescue us and that God will be with us. Emmanuel.

It is at times like this when we must remember the promise of God, “The time is coming when you will not fear evil ever again! I am in your midst, and I will create peace with my love. I will heal the sick and lame. I will bring in the outcast. I will transform your sorrow into songs of joy. I will bring all of you home.”

In the darkest of night, a flickering candle can scatter the gloom.

At this time, in the midst of our questioning, our gloom, our sorrow, our anger and pain, we need the light of an advent candle more than ever; A candle that promises of light that is to come. It promises of hope, peace, joy and love that will never go away. We need those promises, not because they have already come, but because we need to know that it is still coming; that this is not the end, or the way it needs to be.

We may not feel it. We may not recognize it. We may not even want to see it, but it doesn’t mean that God’s promise is not there, waiting to spring forth, waiting to become real, waiting to be among us. Emmanuel.

In the midst of our fear, in the midst of our grief, in the midst of our anger and questioning, we hear again the promise spoken by an angel to shepherds on a hill, “Fear not, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.”

(Breddin is the pastor of Zion United Church of Christ in Steubenville.)


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