"Making Room for Possibility"
Read Isaiah 43:18-19
It’s been a really hard year. And while I am as ready as anyone to get 2020 in the rearview mirror, I wonder if there might be an opportunity to prepare for the possibility that our celebration of Christmas this year, in the darkness of an ongoing global pandemic, could enable the best Christmas ever for you and those you love. I wonder if even in the midst of a really difficult 2020, God might allow us to experience Jesus’ coming in a new and fresh way.
The context of Isaiah 43 comes after a long season of darkness for God’s people. For the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, the bulk of the book paints the situation in a depressing light. Where there could have been gardens, there was a desert. Where there could have been fruit, there was nothing but decay. Much like 2020 has been for us, theirs was a season of wandering through the valleys of the shadow of death. God’s people had been through the fire. Then, in Isaiah 40, something shifts. The darkness turns to hope. Despair turns to comfort. What has felt like the harshness of divine silence and judgement has shifted to the tender voice of God rescuing and redeeming the faithful from their difficult season. As the prophet says in Isaiah 43:18-19: God is doing something new. He’s making a pathway through the parched wastelands. He’s cutting streams in the desert. He’s starting an irrigation project that will one day make the desert places into gardens. New possibilities are emerging.
That’s really what Advent, the season leading up to Christmas, is all about. Of course, we sentimentalize it and make it pleasurable and palatable for kids. But lest we forget — the hope, love, joy, and peace that we celebrate at Christmas can only be those things because Jesus was born into a dark and broken world and he came as light into that darkness.
What if the darkness of 2020 is merely providing the backdrop to remember John’s words about Jesus’ arrival, “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). What if our 2020 Christmas celebrations weren’t just something we had to endure, but something that actually reminded us that Jesus is truly the Light of the world, and He shines in the darkness. Part of Advent is making room for Jesus in our darkness. Not to deny the darkness but to remember that Jesus has come to do something new – to create new possibilities.
If you’re doing these devotionals on your own, journal for a few minutes on things that didn’t go as expected this year and that feel hard. If you’re doing this with others, take some time to share places where you’ve been discouraged this year. But then, spend time journaling or talking about places of hope, and where the possibility of light could change things. What would it look like to imagine that God might bring streams in the desert — that he will bring possibility from impossibility?