A friend of mine and his wife are currently trudging through the desert, though they might not be aware of that name for what they are going through. They are childless and trying to adopt and the process seems to be throwing them dead ends at every turn. Most recently, after getting into the final two of one young mother’s selection process, they were forsaken for someone who seems to be less a match for the mother’s wishes.
Unfortunately, this process has opened them to a lot of rejection. Which in turn brings up a lot of questions and doubts. Why not us? Should we even want this? Aren’t we attractive as parents? On and on the assault against the self goes.
Two paths emerge from this desert journey, a fork in the road that has been introduced before, either running toward the mirage of or letting the lack that the desert represents create a holy desperation for the One who quenches thirst.
Often we confront people in the desert with the counsel that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” But my observation is that usually that provides more comfort to the giver of the counsel than the receiver.
Underlying that counsel is the logic that if we just love God well, He’ll give us good things – defined to be the things we want. Thus, in the case of my married friends, if they just try harder to love God, they will be rewarded with a baby. A lack is perceived as a defect in our ability to love God properly.
But, is that the good to which the above verse quoted from Romans if referring? My hunch is no. There is one good that God is driving us to, and that is the person of Jesus.
God is so much less concerned with our enjoyment of this life than He is about creating desperation in us for Jesus.
It’s not even close.
God’s ultimate good, the only blessing that matters, is that we would be secure and complete in the embrace of Jesus. Through listening to the heartfelt sorrow of my friend, it has occurred to me that this is what the season of advent is for.
We spend four weeks waiting. Preparing. Anticipating the arrival of the One. Wonderful Counselor. Almighty God. Everlasting Father. Prince of peace. We fast. We pray. We search the scriptures. All in the effort to make room and be ready for the arrival of the Gift God prepared for us in the beginning.
Advent is intended to create desperation. Then the celebration can start.
Yet, it does not end there. Advent is our yearly reminder that, just as Jesus came into the world once, He has promised to return. Just as we spent four weeks intentionally preparing for the babe, our lives are intended to be spent preparing for His return.
Ultimately, that is why God uses the desert. It is for our own good.