A few years ago the phone rang on a December evening. It was Brad’s dad, calling to tell us he had been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It was the beginning of Advent, and when I think about it today, I can still feel the bitterness, anger, and deep sorrow I experienced that holiday season. The lights, the music, the decorations, the shopping, the socializing…it all felt so garish, so offensive. I wanted everything to stop. It was all I could do not to squeeze my eyes shut and cup my palms over my ears.
That whole season was terrible, not only because my father-in-law was dying, but also because I felt forced toward a lightness and jubilance I couldn’t possibly experience. It felt like there wasn’t space for grief, like there wasn’t room for suffering and brokenness. And so we stumbled through. Our faces wore expressions appropriate to the season, but inside, our hearts were shattered.
I know God was with us that holiday season. I know he was with us in our grief and that he gently held our shattered hearts in his hands. But I couldn’t hold that tension between the joy and light of the season and the darkness and sorrow inside me. I couldn’t see that there was space in the waiting for both light and darkness, joy and grief. Amid all the festive lights and noise of the season, I couldn’t see that God makes that space for us in his son Jesus, that waiting can hold both our joy and our despair.
A few months ago my friend Kris Camealy emailed to ask if I would consider writing an endorsement for her book, Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting, a collection of 25 daily devotions for Advent. I said yes because I love Kris and I respect and admire her writing. What I didn’t expect, though, was that her book would move me so deeply and so profoundly.
Come, Lord Jesus is the book I needed during that hard Advent, when I couldn’t find a place for suffering amid all the brightness. Kris Camealy gets it. She understands that there’s a place for that tension, the existence of both darkness and light, and she doesn’t shy away from it; she doesn’t pretend the darkness isn’t there. Kris acknowledges the grief and sorrow, the pain and suffering, and she reminds us that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us – even in, especially in, the sometimes unbearable weight of waiting.
This is a beautiful book, friends. And please don’t get me wrong – it is full of light and joy and hope. But I also so appreciate that Come, Lord Jesus does not lean so much toward the jubilance of the season that it completely disregards the fact that grief, suffering, and darkness exist. For it is only in great darkness that we are truly able to see a great Light.
I am delighted to be able to send one reader a copy of Kris Camealy’s beautiful book Come, Lord Jesus. Enter the drawing below for a chance to win (email readers: click here and scroll down to the bottom of the post to enter the drawing).