“No more let sins and sorrows grow, nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow, Far as the curse is found.”
This past year was hard- yet so, so good. I am grateful for both- truly, I am. Some advent seasons follow easy happy blessed years full of rest and joy- and some years are hard, weary years where you slowly craw into the holiday season and new year. Years of great blessing make rejoicing easy but don't help me to properly long and wait during advent – and years of longing match perfectly with the waiting season of advent but make me work harder to find joy during the holiday season. But, this year, I have known both grief and rejoicing– reminding me of my incredible need for a Savior, my longing for Heaven in the midst of a broken world, and of God’s unmerited kindness displayed upon me. The Christmas carol rings true in my life – He has definitely made His blessings flow in my life far as the curse is found. And the curse and the blessing is making me daily more like Him.
There are two sweet new ornaments on our tree this December, announcing two sweet babies – one that I gave to my husband last December to announce our first pregnancy and baby, and one given to me by mother this year announcing our sweet daughter’s quick approaching arrival. I refuse to take the first one down – because that ornament is just as much a part of our story – and the story of Advent as the second ornament. (This is not the first time I have realized loss during the “most wonderful time of the year” and each loss has made Advent all the sweeter in my life) In fact, I can’t think of a better time of year to remember those we love and have lost than Advent – a time when a perfect Savior came as a baby into our mess to save us from death and destruction. I can celebrate both babies this year because of the sweet baby in the manger that was the beginning of the end for this broken, hard world and the ever-reaching curse of death and sin.
You see, ADVENT is the BLESSING found amidst the CURSE. God’s people waited for their Savior to arrive (and He did so in a way far different than was expected) – and we, too, await our Savior’s return, the ultimate blessing for a hurting world. In the meantime, we live in the present with broken marriages, sickness and disease, singleness and childlessness, poverty, abuse and death. Many of our lives are filled with numerous blessings – yet some years, the good gifts seem fewer and further apart. And, even among the blessings, we muddle through the ramifications of sin’s curse day in and day out.
But, then Advent comes – and amidst the curse, we get to set aside a few weeks in December to hope and long for the awaited return of our King, the one who comes to make all sad things untrue. It is when sin’s curse is most strongly felt that we most desperately need the blessing of Advent and the realization of our ultimate blessing.
And, sometimes, by God’s good kindness on our lives, we get to experience blessings and redemption among the curse even here on earth. I should be holding a baby this Christmas morning and friends, the curse's sting will be real and painful, but thanks to the Lord’s sweet mercy on me, I will be bigger than Santa Claus at 8 months pregnant, enjoying the promise and hope of a baby on her way. The baby in the manger allows us to not only have ultimate HOPE - but hope even now, in the middle of disappointment and despair and loss. My prayer is that you see God’s little blessings this season just as much (or hopefully more) than you realize sin’s curse. There is pain, but oh, there is joy also!
Blessings flowing – both now and in eternity. The curse’s reach may be far, but because of Advent and the beginning of the end for Satan, “sin’s curse has lost its grip on (us).” The world's long awaited Savior has come - and will come again!