Advent Without a Baby
There is a deep longing that comes this time of year. I’m patiently waiting, watching, preparing for the coming of the Christ child. Despite the traditional longing associated with Advent, there is joy. Mangers sit empty, but we know the ending – they will be filled on Christmas morning.
The miracle unfold each year. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive.” We marvel at this news as we stare at little porcelain nativity sets depicting Mary cautiously bent over, adoring and fretting over baby Jesus.
Yet here I stand, with empty arms and a painfully empty womb. The ache of infertility does not disappear at Christmas. The beauty of life growing in unexpected places, the virgin’s womb, inside a woman well past her fertile years, only highlights the absence of life where we expect to find it.
But despite the life coming from the virgin’s womb, my arms, the arms of my husband, remain empty. And we cry.
We cry because the power of God, His life-giving power, is especially on display this time of year. It is magnificent and breath-taking to behold. We marvel at the splendor, at the grace of Mary, the faithfulness of Joseph, but most of all, we marvel at life. That this impossible life came to dwell among us.
I am wrestling with God as I try to hold in balance the power and majesty He displayed in the incarnation and the emptiness I feel. Christmas draws me back to the angel reminding Mary that nothing is impossible with God but yet, my prayers go unanswered. He is able, that much has already been displayed, but my heart is left crying, begging as Rachel did for a life to take root within me.
So this Advent, this last week before Christmas, I’m going to practice longing. Standing in the already, not yet, I will wait for my Messiah to come anew. I will remember when Israel cried out to God for 500 years of silence and I will cry out with them, “O come, Emmanuel.”
And I know that He will.
Because God works in the quiet, unexpected place of our lives. He cultivates faithfulness and intimacy with Him while we wander in these desert places. And He fills the deep longings of our hearts.
This may not look like a baby in my arms, but it will look like God-ordained beauty. And may I respond, no matter the circumstance, as Mary did.
“Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’”Luke 1:38, ESV