The Light of Advent in Your Valley of Tears
During this Advent season, the body of Christ will gather around the world to celebrate our Savior’s birth. As God’s people, it’s the most wonderful time of year not because of the temporal gifts that we give or receive, but because of the eternal gift of God’s Son (2 Corinthians 9:15). This moment that changed the world would be the moment that is still changing the world today.
And yet for many during this Advent, the most wonderful time of year is the most difficult time of year. It will be the first Christmas for the widow who has lost their spouse to cancer, or the first Christmas for the parent who has lost their child, or for the child who will no longer see their mother or father next to them while opening presents. But even in these very difficult moments, Advent reminds us that in our deepest pain, God promises to meet us providentially and powerfully as we mourn these moments.
Scripture is filled with golden nuggets. For those mourning the loss of a loved one this Christmas, the Bible contains nuggets of hope that help us to savor our Savior’s nearness to us in our grief. One of these nuggets is in Psalm 84:6.
“As they go through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs.”
The Valley of Baca is commonly known as a place of weeping. Loss, affliction, and trials all take place in this valley. However, as we walk through the valley of weeping, we are able to make this place an oasis where God draws near to us in profound ways. Only our union with Christ makes this possible.
If you are walking through this valley during this holiday season, the light of Advent is a place where your tears become springs of life to the world around you. Advent reminds us that God never fails to encounter us; he always shows up on time. As your eyes gaze upon the Advent story, see the power of God’s love to bring hope to your story, and hope to the story of those in your life who desperately need Jesus.
See the Light of His Glory
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth, he notes that the wise men saw his star when it rose over Bethlehem. Their response was worship (Matthew 2:2, 11). When God shines his light upon the darkness both in creation and in our lives, worship is always the response (Psalm 8:9; John 9:38). And while this might be difficult for us to embrace in suffering, God’s light never grows dim upon our pain. Through Christ, his light shines permanently.
Contrary to the well-known phrase, “There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” Advent reminds us that his light fills the tunnel of our deepest darkness and pain. He has sent his light and his truth in the person of his Son, and the beauty of his light will continue to lead you as he pours out his Spirit in the darkest places of your life (Psalm 43:3).
See the Light of His Care
Matthew gives another picture of our Savior from the prophecy from Micah 5. The One prophesied here is not one who rules with an iron fist, but leads his people with a shepherd’s heart. This baby would not only be a sovereign king over his people, but a caring shepherd who would never forsake his own (Matthew 2:6). The unseen shepherd revealed in Psalm 23 became the baby who his people would not only see face to face, but also hold in their hands.
The great shepherd’s care in your deepest darkness far outlasts any hope the world has to offer. While my wife and I were in the NICU last year at Christmas with our first child, we were often asked, “How are you making it?” Perhaps you have been asked the same thing already this Christmas. We are able to endure life’s greatest trials because the Good Shepherd has his loving arms around us- arms that refuse to let go of us (John 10:27-29).
See the Light of Eternity
In Luke’s account of Advent, the heavenly host gives a small glimpse into what eternity will look like. They sing the song that heaven has sung for all eternity.
“Glory to God in the highest.”
Heaven will be full of great, glorious, God-exalting singing. Their song is echoed again in John’s vision of the throne in heaven as he hears the 24 elders cast their crowns before the Lord crying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11). If this is your first Christmas to spend without a loved one, remember that when you sing the songs of Advent, there’s a far greater song we long to sing with those who have gone before us. The eternal song of heaven is one of glory- a glory that is promised to those united to Christ by faith.
The story of Advent is one anchored in light and hope. Light pierced the darkness like it had never pierced it before. It’s this light that we, as God’s people, continually come back to so that his light will light up our own darkness. This Christmas, remember that his glory, his care, and the promise of eternity gloriously light up your most difficult afflictions. And in these wonderful truths, Jesus is very, very close to you during this Christmas season.