Where Is God?
Advent is a great time to ask deep questions. When people suffer, I have heard a question linger in the air: Where is God? I have heard this question asked by people of great faith and people of no faith. In this question we hear an age old dilemma…what is God’s relationship to the suffering that clings closely? For many who ask this question we also hear the great frustration that God seems to be absent in some human suffering. When will God show up? When we think God is absent, this is, of course, a natural question to ask. But what if God wasn’t really absent in the first place? What if God had already shown up? I would think that this might change the whole situation. How would our view of the world around us change if we could see God even in our darkest hour?
When God Shows-Up
As strange as it may seem, I’ve also seen people who would express fear of God showing up. For these folks, God’s showing up was a fear-inducing prospect. In there mind, when God showed up He would bring with Him wrath, judgement and punishment. For the people of Israel this was a common fear. Their only ‘first-hand’ experiences of God were associated with great deeds of awe-inspiring power. When you consider the Scriptures in which Israel describes how they experienced God, it is little wonder that they might not be too anxious to have God showing up on any kind of regular basis. Often times Israel associated God showing up with death and destruction. They were fine when God showed up to vanquish their enemies. Unfortunately, as they saw it, God would also show up when they weren’t holding up their end of the covenant and chaos would ensue.
Then Came Christmas
Centuries before Jesus’ birth, things changed; Israel began to dream of God showing up. They had reached the conclusion that hoping for God to show up was worth the risk. Israel had spent so much time under the heel of foreign occupiers that God showing up in a big way would be the only way to be liberated. Israel began to look for a King, like David, who would be strong enough to restore Israel to their former glory. The King would come to be known as Messiah, the anointed one. Did God ever show up! However, this time, God showed up in a totally unexpected way. No fire or fury. No smoking judgement. Advent is the season for us to remember how God shows up. God came and brought life, hope and healing into a hungry and hurting world. In our greatest need, God was/is there. That is Christmas.