On our last day considering the anticipation of Advent, it’s worth remembering that there is a bitter-sweet quality to anticipation: sometimes, the excitement just becomes too much for us! As a child, I used to be so excited about Christmas that by the time Christmas Day actually arrived, I woke up far too early and felt sick most of the day, being unable to eat my Christmas dinner because I felt unwell! The Psalms capture that feeling sometimes, talking about longing for God’s saving help: ‘my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.’ (Ps 63:1) We can feel sick with excitement and anticipation, and in this world, Christmas can end up being a disappointment to us because we have perhaps looked for the wrong things (maybe getting disappointed if we don’t get a certain gift, for example) or are having to cope with the difficulties of life (maybe spending our first Christmas without a loved one, for example, which can be very painful.)
The Bible declares that God does not disappoint us (Ps 25:3), but there are certainly times when life does. Often, we have wrong expectations and are hoping for things that God has never promised us. We can become bitter and disillusioned, disappointed and disenchanted when things don’t turn out the way we expected. The truth is that the first Christmas must have seemed a bit of a disappointment in many ways: a crowded city, no room at the inn, birth in a stable, poverty and a decided lack of glamour. Life is often not as exciting or glitzy as we expect; there is far more to Christmas than tinsel, glitter and fairy lights. God works for good in ALL circumstances of life, Paul tells us (Rom 8:28). If you’re ‘not feeling’ the hope, peace, love and joy of Advent, don’t worry. God is still there with you in it all, and He will bring you through to the reality of these things, not just the outward substance of them.