This week we enter Advent, the time of waiting and wondering. I once heard someone say that in every Christian’s life, they will echo the words of the Psalmist, ‘How long, oh Lord?’
It speaks of a spiritual ache—a longing for things to be restored and made right. It speaks of those dark, silent times when we are living with unanswered prayer. The atheist—like the Teacher in Ecclesiastes 1:2—can throw up their hands and say, ‘Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!’ But the person of faith struggles blindly to find God in the spiritual fog: How long, oh Lord?
There have been times in my life when, in the midst of despair, I envisioned my prayers as a treasured string of pearls. But the string had broken—the pearls fallen through my fingers, scattering on the floor. I felt like I was scrambling round on the ground, utterly defeated.
I still don’t understand the ‘why’ of these dark times. I don’t exactly know how I grew or what I learnt. The greatest thing I took away from this season was a deeper awareness of my own fragility—a keener sense of my dependence on God.
Yet, I am no longer in that place. As Jeremiah 29:11 says, God has good things in store. I enjoyed pondering this equally loved and maligned verse again this week (see p.20)—we live in exile from our promised land, but we are not forgotten. We settle into this season of waiting, knowing God's Greatest Gift is soon to come.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
Ngā Waiata 13:5–6
Ko ahau ia e whakawhirinaki ana ki tāu mahi tohu: ka whakamanamana tōku ngākau ki tāu whakaoranga. Ka waiata ahau ki a Ihowā, mōna i atawhai mai ki ahau.