“Those who know your name will trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
I have had a lot of conversations lately — cozied up in chairs around fireplaces, during drives across bridges, sitting in restaurant booths — conversations about the crazy society we live in, the fear that haunts so many, and the changes that need to be made.
While it speaks of a world that has lost its way, it also stirs in me the hope of a God who is here in the midst of the turmoil. It reminds me of Immanuel, God with us; the One who loves us so much that He will stop at nothing to rescue us.
This Advent season I’ve been pouring through stories of the Old Testament, reading of people desperately in need of God and facing evil not too different from today. I’ve heard it said that the God of the Old Testament is one of wrath and the God of the New Testament is one of grace. But as I’ve read the stories, I see how both the Old and New Testament reveal the tender heart of God and His great love for us.
In every story, He can be seen weaving together the larger narrative of redemption, grace, hope and healing. At all points throughout history, He has been preparing the way for Jesus.
You read it in the story of Joseph. His own brothers threw him away and he became a slave in a foreign land. But God was working even when He couldn’t be seen. He used what was meant for evil to bring about good in Joseph’s life and to save a family, a nation, and the very lineage of Christ.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
You read it in the story of Naomi and Ruth. Living in a culture of violence, sorrow and upheaval; widowed and alone, they are unsure of what the future holds. But God was working in the midst of their deep sorrow and He had redemption in store. He sent a kinsman to rescue them, new life was created and they were grafted into the family tree of Christ.
“Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family … And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jessie and the grandfather of David.” Ruth 4:14a, 17b
You read it in the story of David. A boy considered the least among his family, years spent hunted, betrayed by those he loved, and making mistakes of his own along the way. But God was working as David waited and trusted Him. God chose David to be a mighty king, a man after His own heart, and out of David’s line came Christ.
“In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place.” Isaiah 11:10
You continue to turn the pages and each story reveals how God has always been paving the way for our rescue. And then in the midst of a chaotic and desperate landscape, He created life in Mary, knowing that it would allow us to have fullness of life in Him.
So when we read the headlines or look at our own brokenness, we can breathe in God’s grace and truth. His love is unfailing and unchanging, and He is still working. “We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
We are called to internalize that love and then pour it back out.
We are called to pray, to speak, to act, and to give.
We believe that there is more than what we are seeing even when everything points to the opposite.
We wait with holy anticipation for when He will return again, and in the waiting we fearlessly love, hope and trust.
On this eve of Christmas Eve, I’m waiting and preparing my heart for the celebration of the One who loves me enough to die for me.
This Christmas, may you find joy and hope in knowing our Savior has come, He is working for our good, and He will come again.
For those who are filled with joy this holiday season or those who are hurting, here are song lyrics from a new song by Danny Gokey. A heartfelt reminder that we can trust our heavenly Father.
"Let every heartbreak and every scar
Be a picture that reminds you who has carried you this far
'Cause love sees farther than you ever could
In this moment heaven's working everything for your good"