Advent Devotion – November 29 – Michael Schulte
“How Lowly sits the city / that was once full of people!”
Scripture: Lamentations 1:1-8
In late September, my grandma was hospitalized and underwent emergency, life-saving heart surgery. Before, during, and after her surgery she sat in her hospital bed alone. Because of COVID, no one could visit.
I cannot imagine how hard it must have been to sit in that hospital bed without my grandpa, my mother, and my aunt by her side. I cannot imagine how scary it must have been to undergo emergency heart surgery without being able to say “I love you” or “goodbye” to the people you love. I cannot imagine how God could allow such lonely despair.
I felt powerless. I could not provide the care and support my grandma deserved in her time of need.
* * *
In the Old Testament, the Israelites (God’s people) experienced prolonged exile at the hands of the Babylonians. They were captured, deported, and coerced into servitude. They wondered if God had abandoned them.
While COVID looks to disrupt our lives for several years, the Israelites were held captive for generations. Grown adults did not know a life outside of subjugation and bondage. Jerusalem, their capital city, “[became] a vassal” (Lam. 1:1). Their servitude negated their human agency. They were powerless in the face of a domineering empire who sought to destroy their identity in God, and there was “no one to comfort [them]” (Lam. 1:2).
Yet, the Israelites persisted. They knew the same God who led their ancestors out of slavery in Egypt would one day grant them liberation from exile. In their powerlessness, they cried out to God in lament, urging God to take away this unbearable punishment.
Our community finds itself in its own prolonged period of exile and disruption. COVID-19 has robbed us of human connection and belonging. It has forced parents to become teachers. It has blurred the lines between work and home. It has caused families to go months without seeing the people they love.
In this space of grief, God calls us to lament. God calls us to cathartically cry out for mercy and grace.
The season of Advent reminds us of the Creator’s response to our prayers–Jesus.
I hope you will join me this Advent season in crying out, “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free.” God, liberate us from the pain of this life and help us to one day experience beloved community in heaven.
Core Idea: God hears our cries for mercy and responds by sending Jesus to save the world.
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