An Advent Reflection

I have just walked back from visiting my dad in the hospital. I’m so glad that he is making some progress but he is still a long way from well. I’m grateful to God for the thirteen years He has given my father beyond the three-score and ten. 
But the experience of seeing him so physically frail and psychologically vulnerable, coupled with the reality that the reason I walk is that I cannot overcome my social anxiety enough to drive or use public transport, reminds me how deep run the wounds of the curse.

God did not create and constitute mankind to die or to suffer illness or anxiety. And we know this. The Teacher tells us in Ecclesiastes that God has put eternity into men’s minds, but in such a way that we cannot see the hand of God from the beginning. As believer’s, of course, we can know something. We have been given eyes to look beyond the things of this world, to those eternal but invisible realities. And we know more than any that we were not made for the grave. And faced with suffering and decay, something deep within us, almost viscerally reacts and screams, “This cannot be all that there is!”. 

Paul tells us that even the creation groans in travail. And we with it; we “groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

At this time of year, Christians remember the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. For any believer suffering as a result of their pain, or from watching the pain of those they love, this can be such a bittersweet time of year. But, we remember not just a birth but an incarnation – God being made flesh. We remember the One Who,

“though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross…”

As Christians, we cannot but think of the death, resurrection and ascension of this Jesus, every time we think of His birth. And we cannot forget that, even now, Jesus, our Great High Priest, is seated at the right hand of His Father in heaven, ever interceding for our prayers. He knows the frailty of our frame, having been tempted in every way, even as we are tempted. 
But His work is not yet done. 

“Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away.” 

Come, Lord Jesus!

18 December, 2019 – S.D.G.

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