I believe deeply that God does his best work in our lives during times of great heartbreak and loss, and I believe that much of that rich work is done by the hands of people who love us, who dive into the wreckage with us and show us who God is, over and over and over. There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.
And our present griefs are so entirely absorbed in Him, that, softened by His love, soothed by His sympathy, supported by His grace; trial is welcome, affliction is sweet, and the rod of a Father’s chastening, buds and blossoms into delectable fruit.
Sometimes I ponder the whys of life. It seems to me I’ve been handed a strange assortment of circumstances with which to contend. I’ve even complained that I’ve not liked the way things were going, and then I stop and look back on my life and see how God has worked and put everything together so beautifully. My life’s been full of challenges God has turned into blessings, and my “Why God?” has turned into a triumphant “Why not!”
You will have no test of faith that will not fit you to be a blessing if you are obedient to the Lord. I never had a trial but when I got out of the deep river I found some poor pilgrim on the bank that I was able to help by that very experience.
The Lord gives faith, for the very purpose of trying it for the glory of His own name, and for the good of him who has it; and, by the very trial of our faith, we not only obtain blessing to our own souls, by becoming the better acquainted with God, if we hold fast our confidence in Him, but our faith is also, by the exercise, strengthened: and so it comes, that, if we walk with God in any measure of uprightness of heart, the trials of faith will be greater and greater.