This week, Advent focuses on peace.
Therefore, by default, I think Advent focuses on trust...because the only way to have peace in life is by trusting the Lord even when the situation seems unsolvable, unmanageable, uncontrollable. Funny how we (and by we, I mean me!) often think peace and calmness and stability comes through very controlled, manageable circumstances.
We want answers and certainty and all of our loose ends tied up. I hate unresolved friendships, relationships, work situations. (It's true, although happily married, if I were to think too long on any exes, I would probably became anxious- not because I "lost" them, but because many breakups never have closure or answers and I hate feeling like the whole issue will always remain unmanaged and unresolved). One of my life mottos is that I'd rather know the answer, even if it's not an answer I want to hear. (The truth is I'd rather never know bad news at all, but if I know there is news, circumstances, etc that someone is withholding, I just feel I'd rather know than guess!)
Life has been fairly pleasant this year, but even so, there are "loose ends" I wish could be tied up: friendships that have suffered this past year and may never be the same, a job hunt I wish would go ahead and end with some certainty of where I will be for the next year, clarity on which church should be our church home, an established group of friends like I had in Mississippi. Nothing major, just tiny little annoyances that I want to fix and solve and manage....but I can't.
Many people go into "manage" mode during crisis or tragedy. "Ok, the circumstances didn't turn out as hoped, but here's what I've got, how do I make the best of this?" I actually think this is a great way to be - to try to assess hurts in a way where we salvage good from bad, but this tendency to manage and fix should only come after prayer and deep trust in the one who controls and manages all circumstances!
I'm pretty bad at trusting. Ironically enough, I don't struggle with trusting the Jesus came, died, rose again and will come back again for me. I don't doubt that the Gospel is true. I don't ever question that Christmas occurs because of the birth of our Savior or that in the grand scheme of things, God is who says he is....So, when it comes to eternal perspective, I have a lot of peace and comfort that my God loved me so much he came to this world and that he has saved and redeemed me.
BUT I do (like most humans) want to control my life, and by default, I don't always feel peace in regards to my daily life. I feel worry and stress and anxiety. We often fail to trust God to tie up the loose ends even when we don't see them being tied up, to control the situation even when it seems out of control.
Advent may be a month long preparation for Christmas, but the concepts should apply all year long....after all, we are in constant waiting for His second coming. When struggling to trust, perhaps its best to look back to Christmas and see how God was in control of the little details.
Seriously, how many tiny details did the Lord have to carefully work out - there were lots of prophecies about the Lord's coming. God worked out a census to get Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in order to fulfill one prophecy. He knew an inn would be full so He provided a stable. The Lord was in the details. He managed what seemed a little unmanagable. Until that point, it probably felt to many of God's people like there were a lot of little loose ends that had yet to be tied up - prophecies yet to be fulfilled, a Savior that had not yet come. The Lord is trustworthy with the details -- be at peace!
Finally, Advent should direct us to peace in our daily lives because we know that Christ has come and overcome the world. We can have eternal peace and we can have daily peace - trusting that God can overcome and redeem whatever problems and hurts caused by our sins and the sins of others, caused by the harsh disappointments and realities of life, etc.
Peace is hard to obtain. I doubt anyone has it all the time. It comes from trusting - and trusting comes from remembering -- remembering God's faithfulness, remembering God's promises. Advent is all about remembering and gives us the perfect time to reflect on God's goodness and perfect control of situations. So, seek peace this advent -- seek it by choosing to remember the Savior's birth and be remembering the Lord's provision. Remembering the Lord's goodness and sovereign control over biblical history and our own lives will make it easier to trust Him for our daily peace.