Advent 2016: Faith for Today

The following reading comes from Word & Craft’s 2016 Advent Devotional. If you would like to download the full devotional, you can do so here

Read: Luke 2:26-33

 

Simeon was resilient in hope. The Spirit of God ensured Simeon that he would not pass from this earth until he had seen the thing he hoped for: the consolation of Israel, the Comforter. I imagine that in the faith of youth this promise was more easily embraced. The early days of waiting, filled with excitement and anticipation, pass with much less pain than the days when hope has aged and worn. But as the days drew on, and years passed yet the Comforter was not yet on the horizon, hope was a commodity much more difficult to come by.

For the past few years, my husband and I have been waiting on jobs. We met in seminary and dreamed of the day when we get to do vocational ministry together, believing it was God’s best for us. As graduation approached, we applied for jobs with excitement and waited to hear back with anticipation. Graduation came and there were no viable positions on the horizon. We applied for more jobs, still hopeful that God would lead us into what we felt was His plan for our lives – working in ministry together. Three years later, we are still waiting. I look back at those early days and think about how easy it was to remain hopeful. From my vantage point today, hope takes more intentionality, more resilience, more faith.

And he came in the Spirit into the temple… (Luke 2:27)

While I’m sure Simeon had these days where hope was hard to come by, the Text tells us that he stepped out of his home and into the temple. Each day, Simeon chose faith. Like the Israelites picking up manna each day in the desert, Simeon woke each morning, went to the Lord, and gathered the faith that he needed to believe that day.

In what ways do you need faith today? What promises of God have you stopped believing simply because your hope dried up? Today, we have the invitation of following Simeon’s example. We can go to the Lord with our hands tired and worn, confess that we have failed to believe, and ask from Him the faith we need to step out in hope again. As you walk into your day today, don’t do it on your own. By the work of Christ and through the Spirit, approach God for the strength you need to believe again.

We may not have the assurance from God that our waiting will come to an end before our lives do, as Simeon did. But, with our hope in the same God that Simeon hoped in, we can rest assured that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Consolation will come.

In our pain, grief, and suffering, we will do well to remember that our God is both our Comforter and our Suffering God. Jesus Christ can only be a Comforter to us, and we are only able to wait with real hope on His comfort, because He was first the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 51. Jesus Christ suffered remarkably more than we can imagine, taking on hell itself on our behalf. No matter how deep your grief, no matter how dark your suffering, you cannot fall beneath the nail-pierced hands of the suffering Christ. Though your pain may threaten to drag you to the pit of despair, though you fear your hurt will drag you into the depths of hell itself, you cannot – will not – sink so far that the blood-stained hands of our Savior will not be there to catch you. His suffering was deeper, His grief more profound. So when your heart is overwhelmed with sorrow and the brokenness pangs your chest, turn your eyes, dear sister, to the One who has suffered for you. And with your eyes fixed on the slain Lamb of God, know that He suffered alone so that you never have to.

Spend some time confessing to God the areas of your life where you have lacked faith. Confess to Him your lack of faith and thank Him that He gives us everything we need to believe today.

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