I was at a conference this past weekend and I was at a session on anxiety and depression. In the middle of the session, the presenter went off on a tangent and talked about what our youth need during this time where we feel broken and in despair, where we give in to anxiety and depression. What he said surprised me. He said they need hope.
I think that’s very beautiful. That’s what the second week of Advent is all about! We are supposed to be focusing on hope. But I know for myself that’s really hard sometimes because our world is very broken, very desolate. A lot of times there is not a lot to hope in.
So what do we tell our children in circumstances like this? What does God tell us in circumstances like this? The majority of our readings for Advent, the first readings that is, come from the book of Isaiah. Earlier this week I was praying with the first reading for mass and it’s from Isaiah 35:1-10. It’s all about God bringing hope in times of desolation and despair.
What places in our life, and in our children’s lives, feel lifeless or without hope?
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad. The desert shall rejoice and blossom.” I sat with that verse for a long time and thought about what a wilderness looks like and how that verse completely and utterly makes no sense. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a desert. They aren’t places of life. They’re dry. There’s not a lot of hope or growth there. Nothing is made new there. It might be a worthwhile thing to talk to your children about what a wilderness looks like. What do your kids imagine that to be like? What places in our life, then, look like that wilderness? Ask your kids, “Where do you feel lifeless or dry or without hope?”
This is a beautiful thing to discuss and to reflect on because it gets to the heart of our need and our despair. But what does God say He’s going to do? In the midst of this, there will be rejoicing and things will grow and blossom. Later on, He says that water shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. Again, things that don’t make sense. In the midst of our despair and brokenness, God wants to bring hope and promises that He will. This is His answer to our times of despair.
In the midst of our despair and brokenness, God wants to bring hope and He promises that He will. This is His answer to our times of despair.
There’s also a line in here that says, “Say to those who are fearful of heart: Be strong, fear not! Your God will come to save you.” As I read that, I was convicted. I said, “Where is my heart fearful?” That’s a good question to ask yourself, your spouse, and your children. What are you fearful of? We all have answers to that. The world is a scary place sometimes and we’re little in that. But again, what does God say? I am coming and I will stand in your midst. I will save you. We need to look at the things that we’re fearful of and let God speak truth into them.
For me, one of the things in my list of fears was that sometimes I fear God doesn’t bring goodness through me, or that others don’t experience God’s love in me. That was one of the things on my list. And as I looked at that list of fears, it was so beautiful because God had already shown me that that’s not true. People have told me they experience goodness through me. Yesterday that even happened! And so God wants to bring truth to these lies. We need to acknowledge that they are there together as a family and be a place where God is able to bring hope to these fears. He wants to do that through us. This would be a beautiful discussion to have, to show your children that God wants to bring truth and hope into our despair.
This would be a beautiful discussion to have, to show your children that God wants to bring truth and hope into our despair.
The last part of this verse is very beautiful. It says “Everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” So how does this end? What happens when we have hope and we place our trust in God? It leads to joy!
That’s what we celebrate this coming Sunday! Gaudete Sunday! It means rejoice. Because in the midst of darkness and trouble, God wants to bring us hope. And that hope leads to joy. If we look at our lives through the lens of God’s love, we see that we don’t have reason to fear because He is with us, carrying us in that love always. And that is truly something to rejoice over!
[tweetthis remove_hidden_hashtags=”true”]Look at your life through the lens of God’s love & see there’s no reason to fear. He’s with us-carrying us always.[/tweetthis]