Right now I am thousands of miles from home. I am thousands of miles from my children. And, although I am listening to Christmas music, the celebration of Christ’s birth feels very far off and far away.
The coming of a little baby in a manger, the coming of the King of Glory masked in the trappings of human flesh, these things feel so distant to me right now. The normal hustle and bustle of the holiday season is far from my reality. The normal family activities that surround Christmas feel painfully aloof.
My present reality looks so different from that, and yet it is right now that I have experienced the coming of the Savior in a more powerful way than I have at any other season of my life.
Christmas may feel far off, but the waiting of Advent, well, that is something I know. Waiting surrounds me. Waiting for a baby born long ago just doesn’t resonate with me right now – no matter how significant that birth was for the world and has been in my own life. What does resonate is waiting for God to act in the present. Waiting for God to step into my here and now. Waiting for the powerful return of a King who will raise the living and the dead into new life.
As I write this I am at the National Institute of Health where my husband is undergoing an intense treatment for advanced cancer. We are in the midst of a very tangible waiting – waiting to see if our deepest hopes will become a reality or our deepest fears. We are waiting to see how his body will handle this treatment. Waiting to know whether this cancer will be the way in which God calls him to Himself or just another twist in our journey. And we are very tangibly waiting for the day when we can go home and be reunited with our children (who are currently being spoiled by grandparents and aunts and uncles so that I can be here with my husband).
There has never been a time in my life when I have felt such a desperate need for God to come, to act, to save. At Christmas I am reminded that he has come, that he has acted, that he has saved. But, in Advent I am called to remember an even deeper truth and one that I need so desperately at this season. I am called to remember that God IS COME and is coming.
As I place all of my waiting at the thrown of a currently active King, as I place all of my broken fears at the feet of God Emmanuel, He is present. He is with me as the nurse starts the infusion of chemo drugs that drip ever so slowly into my husbands chest. He is with me as I walk the quiet halls at night and cry. He is with me in every care package, email, text, and phone call from friends and family carrying us through this. Though this season is filled with waiting it is also filled with coming – the coming of Christ through every nurse, through every friend, through every sign of love sent from on high.
This year Advent and Christmas are not about the distant, long ago, coming of a baby King. For me, this year, it is about the active current coming of a loving Savior – God Emmanuel – the God who IS with us.
Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany Stedman is a woman learning to trust. She is married to a loving husband who happens to have an aggressive cancer. She is mother to a daughter with severe special needs and a son who keeps her laughing at every turn. She is a woman who is learning early how to bow to a God who is sovereign and good. She blogs about life with God and all of the ups and downs that entails at www.bethstedman.com.