Advent is the season we look forward to the coming of Jesus — His birth as our Savior, and His eventual return as our reigning King. But in the context of our daily suffering, Advent also helps us to keep our eyes on Jesus as we place our hope in Him for our future understanding of our present hurt.
We’ve all read the exhortation of James to “count it all joy when you encounter trials of many kinds” (James 1:2) and wondered, “But, how? And if I can’t seem to ‘count the joy’ in the midst of my hurting, is there something wrong with my faith? What kind of Christian does that make me?”
It occurred to me recently that as humans, we are bound by the limits of our finite thinking. We seem to think there is some sort of expiration on our opportunity to give praise for a situation. But we often need the gift of retrospect to be able to see the good work of God in hard times.
So even if it takes the passing of time and a new perspective to be able to praise God for your trial, don’t let that moment pass you by! PRAISE HIM STILL. It’s not too late. You didn’t miss your opportunity. Because here’s the mystery of it all: We serve a God who transcends time (Hebrews 13:8). Therefore, it is never too late to count it all joy.
If you are in a season of suffering, do not heap additional guilt on yourself if you’re having trouble praising Him for your trial while in the depths of your pain. That condemnation is not from God (Romans 8:1). But DO keep taking daily steps forward in your faith (Hebrews 11:1), believing God is good and righteous and loving and kind and that one day, you will be able to truly praise Him for this season. You will. He promises you will.
Christmastime can be an extraordinarily painful time of year for those who have been enduring a season of suffering. Indeed, there are no twinkling lights in the Valley of the Shadow. But the whole point of Advent is to give us hope for the future. So this year, let Advent lovingly cradle your downcast, tear-stained face in both hands, and gently lift your eyes back toward heaven. There is hope for the future there.