Comfort and Joy Advent: Days 21-25

Comfort and Joy Advent- Day 21: The new year//
Letting go of 2015 was hard. To be honest, I really didn’t see it coming. For weeks I had been bracing myself for Christmas and, much to my relief, the day had passed and I was still breathing. Suddenly New Year’s Eve arrived and completely blindsided me. All around me, people celebrated moving on from 2015 and entering a year of new possibilities. They celebrated moving on. Moving on from the year our first born son was born and died. Moving on from a year I didn’t want to let go of.
Moving from 2016 into 2017 was bittersweet. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to move forward--it was simply that I didn’t know which way was forward. Facing 2017 made me realize how out of control I’ve always been and I was forced to decide whether I’d panic or choose to surrender control (control that I never had, I should add) to God and find peace in Him.
Things feel different this year in many ways, but the same in others. 2018 holds exciting possibilities, laced with unknowns. It is still strange to add years between now and the day we last held Ethan in our arms. It is strange to begin Ethan’s story with the words “three years ago…”. Three can it possibly be? Surrendering control is still hard (again, control that I’ve never had--funny how hard it is to surrender something that is an illusion).
When I remember that God holds us in his hand and each of our days have been written in his book, my anxious heart is filled with peace. I’ve never been in the driver seat of my life. There have been seasons when I felt in control, but the reality is I never have been. And I’m glad. I’m grateful that I don’t need to have it all figured out. I’m grateful I can rest in the assurance of an all-knowing God who loves us and knows each detail 2018 holds.

Comfort and Joy Advent- Day 22: Comfort//
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
When I think of comfort, I think of a hot beverage, a crackling fireplace, and a cozy blanket. I think of a hug from my husband when I’m down or a note from a friend.
While those things are certainly comforting, I’m learning that comfort doesn’t always look how we expect it to. Sometimes comfort comes in the form of God’s rod--the trials, suffering, and discipline he allows into our lives to sanctify us and to guide us like a shepherd. I’ve heard it said that shepherds used rods to break the legs of sheep that were particularly prone to wander, not because they wanted to cause pain to them, but because they wanted to protect the sheep from the greater evils they would face on their own. The shepherd would then carry the sheep until they were healed. The rod brought pain, along with protection and comfort.
Comfort came in the form of a baby, who grew into a man--Jesus Christ. It comes in the form of God sending his son to earth to die in our place and offer redemption to a broken world. Comfort comes through his death and suffering, as well as his life and the life we have in him.

Comfort and Joy Advent- Day 23: The gift//
“God gives God. That is the gift God always ultimately gives. Because nothing is greater and we have no greater need, God gives God. God gives God, and we only need to slow long enough to unwrap the greatest Gift with our time: time in His Word, time in His presence, time at His feet.” ― Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas

Comfort and Joy Advent- Day 24: Peace on earth//
Sometimes this time of year feels anything but peaceful. Busy schedules, shopping lists, family tension, and mile-long to-do lists seem like the antithesis of peace. Beyond that, it can often seem as if there is little peace in the world in general. When we look around, we are constantly surrounded with images of death, tragedy, suffering, injustice, war, and hatred--things that feel so much heavier than our simply holiday stress.
There is no denying the brokenness in the world.
Yet Jesus came to earth to bring true peace to his children--included those who have been adopted into his family. Peace for all who call upon his name. Peace between us and God. Peace and assurance of a future with Him. Peace we can cling to when things seem so broken. Peace in knowing that he not only came to die in our place and conquer death, but that he is also coming back again to restore all things.
Because of Jesus’ birth, death, and life, we can come to God the Father with confidence. Because of Jesus, we have peace with him.

Peace on earth.

Comfort and Joy Advent- Day 25: Praise//

Jesus, thank you for Christmas. I reflect on who you are and what you did for us, my heart is filled with such comfort and joy. Thank you for coming to this earth. Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the resurrection. Thank you for your love.

“All Hail! Lord, we greet Thee, 

Born this happy morning,
O Jesus! for evermore be Thy name adored.
Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.”