It’s Advent right now, my favorite time of the year. Advent is a time of anticipating, waiting and hoping. The word Advent itself means “arrival,” but it’s not just any arrival — it’s The Arrival. Advent is not only about waiting for a baby to be born or for it to be Christmastime again. It is about waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise. It is the groaning of man in search for our everlasting hope, Emmanuel. Advent is the coming of hope to the hopeless.
The holidays can go one of two ways—the glow of the lights can either remind you of all the good and make the season even better, or it can bring back the pain and loss of that year and make them all the more real. There have been a lot of moments this season where I don’t feel like Christmas, but I do feel like Advent. Advent gives us that third option between Christmas cheer and Scrooge. It provides us with the option that the answer is coming but isn’t here yet — that hope is on its way, though the waiting is still very real and very present.
Sometimes Advent is the only thing that saves us from giving up on Christmas and its optimistic, twinkling-light hope forever. It allows us a moment to dwell on the truth about what we’re grieving and what we’ve lost that year. It allows us to wait, together, with an ache and a longing because something isn’t right — something is missing. But Advent never lets go of the extravagant and beautiful promise of Christmas, the baby on the way.
The world, and even personal experiences, have tried to tell me that it’s always too good to be true. Whatever your hope is in, it will let you down. It will betray you. Don’t get your hopes up, just give it time, because no matter how good it looks, it isn’t.
But Advent does the opposite. It confronts this cynical idea and the pattern of the human heart, reminding us that God is not inconsistent. That He has not left us. That hope is real and something is coming. Something worth it. Then, on Christmas day, as the baby lets out his first cry, the shepherds and angels and everyone hoping will celebrate, knowing that what our spirits have been longing for has finally arrived.
This season, let yourself fall into the anticipation of Advent, the season that understands the longing and loneliness and long nights of expecting—the season where what is empty is filled, what is broken is repaired and what is lost is found. Because what is not yet will not let you down.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Daily Runner on December 12, 2013.