December 2020 looks different from other years. Only as I look back do I see more clearly how God has been working during this season of lament and longing.
Faithful believers throughout the ages have lamented and longed for God. Before the time of Christ, God’s people longed for the light of God to pierce through their darkness and send His promised Messiah. Since Christ’s arrival we celebrate God’s light and life to our hearts, even as we long for His return.
Lament and Longing
This year, amid the joy and wonder of Christ’s coming, lament and longing have reappeared. We lament the sickness and suffering, the canceled visits with family, the inability to join together as a church family to sing and celebrate Christ. And how we long! To snuggle with grandkids. To enjoy recitals and plays. To fellowship with friends over special meals. This year, our families sing carols alone. We lament while singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We long to lift our voices together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, singing “Joy to the World.”
God does not ignore our suffering. He sees our tears. He meets us in our loss. While I wait, Scripture fills my mind and heart with God’s hope in Christ. The Bible—His voice—speaks words of comfort and guidance. The Holy Spirit—His presence—restores love and hope. I still lament the restrictions and disappointments, yet I can rejoice as I wait. Christ will come to make all things new in His peace-filled reign. Even now, He comes, strangely, through suffering.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1–5)
Suffering and Glory
What is the glory of this suffering? God gives us the privilege of following in His Son’s footsteps. Jesus laid down His life on the cross for us. To follow Him cannot mean a pain free life. The resurrection proves that God uses the darkest times for the good of His children. Following Jesus promises more than the resurrection of our bodies. Even now He is working to resurrect our character. Perseverance, character, hope—all tell us God’s greatest good for us is that we would be like His beautiful Son.
Through loss and lament, God is making me more like Jesus. Every day I glimpse Christ’s beauty in me and in His people. What do you see? I see the wonder of God in His Word. The awe of God’s compassion through prayer. Willingness to serve in new ways. Perseverance in learning new habits. Creativity in connecting with friends. Gratitude for a global community of people who desire to disciple their children. Less selfishness and greater love for my husband. Joy in regular Zoom visits with family and friends.
Different from any other year, 2020 will be remembered as a year of lament and longing. I will also remember it as a year of personal growth. In the midst of suffering, God is graciously making me His joyful, hope-filled daughter. I know more than ever that God uses even the hardest times for the good of His children. God’s greatest good is that we would be like His beautiful Son.
In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28–29)
Hindsight isn’t always 20/20. But when I look back, God gives me a clearer vision of His work in my life. As you come to the final days of the year, will you take some time to reflect? How is God sharpening your vision during this season of lament? Has God opened your eyes to appreciate His grace? Will you embrace whatever He is showing you?