Read: Luke 2:8-11 & John 16:20-22
I was still deciding what I could give up for Lent last winter when God chose for me— for all of us. He took my sister’s unborn baby after just ten days inside her. Leanna miscarried on Ash Wednesday, but we’ve gone without that little one for longer than forty days.
And we will.
So there’s been room for lament in 2020. Lament over my niece or nephew, lament over a cruel virus, lament over racial violence, lament over lonely people in nursing homes— lament has widened my pupils to the darkness.
But I think that’s only so I’ll be dazzled when the light hits.
Easter dawned smack dab in the middle of quarantine, and that sparked joy in me. I’m hoping Christmas does the same, because Advent reminds me of Lent. It’s where the shadows lengthen just before sunrise.
Take the shepherds. They stood in a dark field under dark skies in a dark time, and so when angels appeared, “they were filled with great fear” (Luke 2:9). Probably they cringed, balked, fell over. So the angel said:
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…” (Luke 2:10, emphasis added)
In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote:
“When we are lost in the woods the sight of a signpost is a great matter. He who first sees it cries, “Look!” The whole party gathers round and stares. But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare.”
Joy comes with the morning, Psalms says, but that’s only striking after a long night of birth pains.
“Truly, truly I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” – John 16:20-21.
Today, Leanna is eight months into pregnancy, and the little kid inside her likes to poke and kick and jump around. Come January, it’ll wriggle its way into the world, and the pain of birth won’t compare to the marvelous and noisy joy of its coming.
“…You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).