By Alex Florez
I have entered the Advent season this year with a heavy heart. In August, my mother passed away, and as so many loving friends and family members had warned me, there was no real way to prepare myself for the reality of her death. Somehow, I didn’t see it coming, but I seem to have a hole in my heart, and it is seeming to get worse before it gets better. Daily, I hear a little boy’s voice somewhere deep inside me utter, “I just want my mommy back.”
Even as I type this, my heart does not feel prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and there is barely a shadow of jubilant expectation about the second coming of our Lord.
I find it easy to lionize the Lord and extol His merits when I encounter passages like the ones in today’s reading. In the Song of Moses, I am reminded that no force on earth can withstand the mighty will of God (Exodus 15). In Psalm 68, David concludes by ascribing power and majesty to the Lord. In the road to Emmaus passage in Luke’s Gospel, we hear Jesus Himself affirm that He is indeed the Savior, the One who has power even over death (Luke 24). “I have conquered the world,” Jesus proclaims in John 16.
Somehow, though, the power and majesty of God seem distant and impersonal in the wake of my mother’s death.
Even in this unanticipated sadness, the Word asserts that our Lord remains immeasurably mighty and indisputably powerful. The question is this: do I have any share in God’s power, or am I simply an awe-struck bystander? Am I invited to participate in God’s unfolding of redemption and reconciliation, or am I merely a member of the captive audience, applauding from afar?
Fortunately, God is unperturbed and unchanged by “me of little faith.” He comforts me through His reassurance of the apostle Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2Corinthians 12:9), and in my soul, I hear Him add, “Yes…even you.”
I may feel weak and lonely; I may feel a sense of disorientation, the likes of which I have never experienced. But, God remains God, and, even if I allowed despair to temporarily obfuscate the truth, His invitation is still valid: “be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength” (Ephesians 6:10). The Holy Spirit offers everything I need to participate directly in the advancement of God’s kingdom, not just externally in my work but even in the quiet of my heart. The armor of God secures the magnitude of His love, protects my heart with His righteousness, prepares my feet to continue walking with Jesus Christ in the light of the gospel, defends me against the wiles and attacks of the enemy, guides my errant thinking by confirming the certainty of my salvation in Christ, and, always provides the living, breathing Word as the inexorable promise of the presence of God Himself. Yes, even for you and me.