Sunday, November 28, 2010
Advent Week 1: HOPE
It's Advent -- The four weeks leading up to Christmas. It's a season of great expectation and frequently a review of what is truly important in life. We often draw closer to family and friends as the events of these weeks demand. But this can be a particularly hairy period for those of us who have children with special needs.
For way too many of us the season screams stress rather than delight. There's the overstimulation of our challenged children with lights, noise, food and clothing. There's the total disruption of schedules for kids whom structure holds tremendous importance. And then there are the unreasonable expectations of family and friends who are more concerned about their party than about the well-being of a not-so-typical child.
It's hard to feel hope rather than dread at a time like this. Yet, that is what this first week of Advent beckons us to. It calls us to reflect on the Nativity story and enter in to the promise it provides us. Two thoughts arise that make this theme especially relevant for parents like us.
The first thought is, if this God of the Universe came to earth and was born in such lowly circumstances, there is hope for us. The Lord showed His tremendous humility and love by how He chose to dwell among us. Because He shared in our common, unattractive circumstances, we get to share in His great glory. (see Phil 2:5-11 & Romans 8:17) This should encourage us all, knowing that we can joyfully anticipate something better ahead. We have the divine privilege of eagerly awaiting something beyond our wildest imagination. And each of us individually matter. We have tremendous value to the One who created us. He drew close to us personally, physically and at great cost to Himself. Wow!
The second thought is that our challenges today will not keep us in a pit that we can never climb out of. Advent not only holds out promise for eternity, but strength for today. If Jesus could remain obedient to death on a cross, surely we can get through the next doctor's appointment with his help! He didn't remain in that smelly cave where he was born forever, and we won't remain in this stressful phase forever either. This keeps me going, and I hope it does you too. If I didn't have this perspective, I don't think I could last most days.
While many might share much more profound thoughts on this first week of Advent, I'd encourage you to meet the God who is willing to meet you right where you are. Know that there is hope that lays far beyond a government plan, a medical cure or the impulses of a child. This is a hope you can stake your life on in the present and for eternity. It's there whether your days are good or are especially trying. Because Jesus came, we can lay our requests before God and wait with joyful expectation and know with certainty that He hears us and cares. And focusing your thoughts on that makes Advent a remarkably significant time for parents like us!