Editor's note: "An uncommon Advent: the arrival of a Savior in our lives" is a sampling of biblical meditations composed by members of the Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin community. It is our prayer that you will take time during the Advent season to read and reflect upon God's Word and await the coming of Jesus with newfound anticipation and zeal through the Holy Spirit.

December 18 – Misery turned to hope

Isaiah 34:1-2, 8-35:10, Micah 1:1-7:20, and Revelation 6:1-17

Today’s appointed readings speak of the Lord’s fury and revenge, and it paints a bleak picture of misery. The land will lie deserted from generation to generation. Thorns and thistles will grow; night creatures will rest among the ruins. Sometimes, our lives mirror such desolation. We encounter illness, hopelessness, sorrow, and sadness. Our lives seem like a wasteland damaged by drought as people with evil in their hearts impede any progress that we attempt to make. We feel lost in the wilderness with no hope in sight, blind to encouragement and deaf to His word.

Have you experienced such misery when it seemed all hope was gone? Perhaps your family did not understand you, your friends turned their backs on you, or your work felt like a wasteland damaged by drought. There may have been times in life when things did not go as you had planned. I always thought that I would have a husband and six to eight children! When my fiancé died two months before our wedding due to a brain aneurysm, I felt like the world had ended for me. I felt the same when my mother, who was my best friend, biggest fan, and most avid supporter, passed away.

Yet this Advent season is one of hope and anticipation. And, as Christians,every day of our lives is infused with that sense of hope. In Matthew 28:20,our Lord reminds us, And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Although, in my life, I felt like all hope was gone, I knew that God had plans for me. He had a purpose for my life. Through prayer my faith was strengthened, and I was open and obedient to His will.

In the midst of any desolation that we may feel, the Lord has promised what He will do. He will display His glory and splendor. Endurance will come to those who are weary. Strength and courage will replace weakness and fear. Within this Advent season, and any other, we can look to the Lord for help. Though there is darkness around us, the Lord will be our light. The Lord has,and will continue to do, mighty things in our lives, and others will be amazed at what God can do for us as misery is turned to hope.

Dr. Sandra Harris is the campus dean of the School of Education at Concordia Ann Arbor and has served at the university since 2014. View a full schedule of “An uncommon Advent” readings here.

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