A reflection taken from a sermon I’m preaching this Sunday:
Sometimes Christians, with all of the best of intentions, tell us that if we are sad, if we lose our joy, it is somehow a lack of faith. This claim is wrong. Sometimes we are sad, angry, or hurting because we are Christians, because we know how the world should be and we contrast that to what is actually going on. Don’t we sense righteous anger in the prophetic literature? Don’t we sense the pain the psalms of lament? Remember Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, and Paul saying, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” because most of Israel has rejected her Messiah (Rom 9:2)?
Being a Christian doesn’t mean that you don’t move through the range of life’s emotions, but that sadness is not the endgame. Sadness and pain are real, but they are never absolute. Remember Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:8-10).
Because we bear Christ within us, we have hope. And that is what Advent is all about: the promise and hope of a redeemer. Christ is the redeemer of all creation, and to know Christ is to have hope. As we welcome Christ into the world in this season of Advent, we do so as people who live in the hope of redemption. Do not faint from fear and foreboding, for if you know Christ, you have hope.