A Devotional for Advent
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…” –Isaiah 9:2a
The subject of light was very much on my mind a few weeks ago when the electricity was turned off in our neighborhood because of high winds and the potential for wildfires. I didn’t realize it was off during the night; I’m a sound sleeper. But throughout the next day I kept expecting to hear that whooshing sound that would mean things were back to normal. Instead, by late afternoon as the sun was setting, I went on a frantic search for candles, matches, and flashlights.
Expectations are tricky, aren’t they? When they lead to disappointment, we often find ourselves irritable and impatient. I know I felt that way as I waited for the electricity to be turned on again. But the experience caused me to consider, too, how the expectations of the Jewish people factored into their wait for the promised Messiah.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light,” the prophet Isaiah announced hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus (Is. 9:2a). I wonder how often the Jews heard that verse and privately scoffed. Or sadder still, stuffed their expectations of a Messiah into a tiny corner of their heart. And waited, waited, waited—until that day in David’s royal city, when the Light of the World became flesh and lived among us. Joy to the world, the Lord has come!
As I waited that day for my house to light up again, candlelight bathed my living room in a soft glow that held the darkness at bay. And an Advent hymn, written by Charles Wesley in 1744 and based on a passage in the book of Haggai, came to mind: Come, thou long-expected Jesus…Dear Desire of every nation…
Expectations. We’ve seen them wax and wane throughout this past year as we’ve struggled to keep healthy and hopeful during the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, as we’re about to turn a corner and embrace a new year, perhaps it’s time to think again about the longings hidden deep within our hearts. What new adventure does the Lord have in mind for you?
“…on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” –Isaiah 9:2b