The Ache of Advent
MY WIFE, BONNIE, was asked to order calendars for 2021 for the managers at the Hartford Public Library. When the calendars arrived, the managers informed her that the company inadvertently sent them calendars for 2020. Can you imagine reliving this year all over again?
And yet, to some degree, if Jesus does not return this year, we will relive a year filled with the aches that come with a fallen creation. Romans 8 is quick to point out that “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now…[and we too] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”
Caroline Cobb describes this past year rather well when she writes, “For many, 2020 has felt like one long groan. Between the pandemic, a struggling economy, the isolation of quarantine and online school, civil unrest, racial injustice, wildfires, hurricanes, a noisy election, and divisive public discourse, this year has reminded us again and again of our mortality, lack of control, and collective brokenness. As 2020 comes to a close, we long—perhaps like never before—for hope, love, joy, and peace.” Read the full article here.
I like how Cobb takes the aches of this past year and uses them to focus our attention on the hope we have in Jesus. Each week of Advent, I want to highlight one of the “aches of 2020” and demonstrate how they can whet our appetite for Jesus and his kingdom.
This global pandemic is obviously at the top of the list of “aches and pains” that come with 2020. If we were doing a final ten countdown, like we often do at the end of the year, this would be the final “ache of 2020” we would mention. It tops the list!
Every day we add to the number of those infected by COVID and those who have tragically died as a result of the virus. At the time of writing this blog, 59.2 million people around the world have been infected by COVID and 1.4 million have died. By far, our country has the most cases and most deaths compared to the rest of the world.
If anything, this virus that we can’t see with our eyes, has demonstrated to us our weakness and our mortality. It is what Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15:55 as “the sting of death.” This is the very thing that ought to cause us to turn to Jesus with expectant hope.
During the earthly ministry of Jesus, we witness his power over sickness and death. When John the Baptist sends his disciples to Jesus to ask whether he was the Messiah or not, Jesus said in response to them, “Tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”
Furthermore, it is through the resurrection of Jesus that we see death has indeed been defeated. Not even a pandemic can have the final say on a person’s life.
And so, in the weakness of sickness and death – in the ache of a world-wide pandemic - our hearts are directed towards the day when “death is swallowed up in victory.” Greater than any vaccine man can manufacture, is the hope that comes to us in the resurrected Jesus who promises us a day when “God himself wipes away every tear, and pain will be no more.”
Let the “ache of 2020” with this lingering pandemic cause us to “wait on the Lord” with an expectant hope that is ours in Jesus Christ our resurrected King!
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing