The four Sundays of Advent represent hope, peace, joy and love.
I had a rough day yesterday. I confess I didn’t feel any of the above. I was completely miserable, wallowing in grief and things that had gone wrong. I’d had a pretty great day the day before, so I was reminded of Elijah in the cave.
One day, he was calling fire down from heaven and smote a ton of bad guys. The next day, he was hiding in a cave wishing his life was over. Where was my hope, peace, joy and love? Where were the friends I needed to sit with me through my hours of sorrow?
I was reminded of Christ in the garden the night of his arrest. He wanted his disciples to sit up with him during which may have been his darkest hour so far. They couldn’t hack it, so he prayed and suffered alone.
I went to bed tossing-and-turning and still miserable. I woke up with a sleep-deprived headache and in the same mood. However, nothing is wasted with God. Throughout all of it, I thought of all the people I have listened to and sat with through their cancer treatments, anxiety and depression, family issues, grief and job-losses.
We all need hope, peace, joy, and love. There are seasons in life where we have to go through things. There is no around, under or over. There’s only "through." We go through. Friends will disappoint you and worries will abound.
It’s in times like these I feel God is telling me, “Come here. Don’t look everywhere else for the source of relief. Hope, peace, joy and love are right here with me.” They are right where they’ve always been.
Life is meant to be lived. Sometimes life doesn’t feel fair, and life can be hard. I told someone last year, “Put up some Christmas lights around your window.” She was suffering. The lack of sunlight and long, drawn-out mornings and evenings can make it worse. I also said, “Don’t look at your phone. Look at Jesus.”
We all need to be loved and accepted for who we are in the moment. When I am anxious, depressed or angry at the world, I’m not attractive. When someone is at their most unlovable, that’s when they need love the most. I have come to understand that it’s not my job to “fix” someone; they may not feel or act better just because I’ve sat with them. That doesn’t give me the permission to not be present in someone’s life.
Who knows the impact we may have? Looking at the rate of mental health issues in our world, I feel it is the job of those of us in the body of Christ to be aware and present. Don’t look at your phone; look at other people. We are in a crisis. Look up.
Considering hope, peace, joy and love, of the four, love is the most important. You cannot have the other three without first giving and receiving love. During this season of giving and merriment, remember there are those who feel they don’t have much to give and may not be so merry.
As Christians, we should be seeking ways to pour hope, peace, joy and love into the lives of others. Too often, we think it needs to be through our pocketbooks. That definitely has its place, but mostly what we need is each other. God’s economy is a funny one; I’ve noticed that the more someone gives, the more they receive. The more I pour into the lives of others, the better I am able to cope with my own.
Let’s treat each other kindly, and it’s a cliché, but the greatest present we can give to anyone is our presence.
“O God, calm me into a quietness that heals, and listens, and molds my longings and passions, my wounds and wonderings into a more holy and Christ-like shape.”
"On Faith" is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. Belle Westman is the pastor of Bassett Community Church in Brimson.