Advent: Joy in Expectation
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” - Isaiah 52:7
FOR CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD, Christmas is a special time of expectation as we prepare to celebrate the birth of the Messiah. For many, it is this sense of expectation that makes the season special – that joyous feeling of experiencing the wonder and certainty that something profoundly good and deeply fulfilling will take place.
It is this expectation that gives birth to the joy we experience during the season of Advent. This, in turn, reflects a secure and satisfied heart – a heart that declares “All is well, because I know Christ is coming, and I expect to encounter Him.”
Mary, the shepherds, the Magi, Simeon and Anna all found the Christ child after hearing the promise; and the record compels us to believe they each lived in joyous and deeply satisfying anticipation of the moment they would encounter him. Even in the midst of suffering, Peter explained this joy of a satisfied and expectant heart in his first letter: “And though you have not seen him, you love him, and though you do not see him now, but believe in him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible.”
What lesson does our experience of “expectation” during Advent, and the joy it brings, mean for us in the days beyond Advent? What does it mean for us in the moment-by-moment experience of our daily lives? It compels us to consider living more expectantly in each day.
When the crushing challenges of life force us to our knees, do we really encounter him in that moment of need? Do we expect him to show up during our quiet time or the routine of the Sunday morning church service? When we are confused and in need of direction, do we expect to hear his voice when we cry out to him? Or when we simply desire for something deeper, do we anticipate that he will come and satisfy our longing?
As followers of Jesus, we have the wonderful promise that wherever he leads us in life’s journey, we will find him there. And when we practice living with the expectation of encountering God’s presence in our daily lives, it produces deep, inward joy that sustains us through the challenges of life.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in this Advent Season, we pray that we would encounter not only the wonder of the Christ child, but also the wonderful One himself, the Counselor, the Prince of Peace. From our fears and sins release us. Help us find our rest in Jesus. He is the joy of every longing heart. Amen.
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