If it was 2019, I would open this blog with “I will assume that many of you have had to go through long seasons of hardship.” But this is 2020, and I think the best opening sentence is “All of us have had to weather a catastrophic year.” I’ve noticed that many in society have been using many different unhealthy ways to cope: humor, anger, self-medicating, distraction, ignore, denial, just to name a few. However, an experience we all share is having to navigate the fatigue.
Prolonged seasons of hardship bring a type of fatigue that is hard to define, but I believe Proverbs 13:12 does it well, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” 2020 has brought us a pandemic, loneliness from restrictions, racial injustice, and a steady diet of divisive interactions with one another; it’s all been one very long groan and the fatigue is causing us to feel hopeless. I don’t want you to deny these feelings, but rather lean into them because they are going to be the catalyst for Advent.
The word ‘advent’ is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning ‘coming’. Christians take the four Sundays before Christmas and, on each of those Sundays, focus on a key theme. One of the purposes of the Advent season is to encourage a longing deep in a Christian’s heart: a longing for Jesus. The first Sunday of Advent is hope, and this year especially, we all need hope.
How encouraging it must have been for those in Isaiah’s time to hear that the Lord himself will give a sign! I’m sure that those that heard Isaiah, though delighted, were curious.
To those that identify with the fatigue of 2020—and even the uncertainty that comes with 2021—allow the message of hope that Isaiah brings seep deep into your soul. Jesus came into the world, and He is coming again. Let the message of hope heal your heart and bring life this Christmas season.