Deus Absconditus: The Hidden God
Advent season should be a time of great joy. But it’s also a season filled with deep sadness and sorrow. The holidays often bring to memory those who are no longer with us. There’s an emptiness in side of us because they are gone. And we often remember mistakes we’ve made or failures we’ve had. Or we realize that we are not where we want to be in life. Advent and New Year is a tough time for those of us who are more introspective. :) Advent is often a time where God seems absent, silent.
In ancient Israel, God was silent for four hundred years. From the end of Malachi to Jesus’ birth, four hundred long silent years filled Israel’s history. Century upon century of silence.
But then the Word became flesh. Jesus has come. His birth, his life, his death, and his resurrection are all answers to our question, “God, where are you?” This is the hope of Advent: Christ has come and Christ is coming again. God is no longer hidden. He is no longer silent.
Brothers and sisters, Christ has come. He came. He lived. He suffered. He died. For three days he was dead. But on the third day he rose again in power and might. And he did all this for you and for me. God is no longer silent, no longer hidden. He speaks to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. And now he has poured out his Spirit upon us. He keeps his promise. His promise of being with us always to the very end of the age.
Author Fleming Rutledge reminds us:
“Yes, there will be suffering. Yes, there will be horrible, inexplicable violence, and much of it will seem utterly without any redemptive meaning. But there is nothing that can happen that is not subject to the sovereignty of God… No suffering can be properly understood until the Lord comes – but he will come. God is accomplishing his purposes in spite of all the appearances to the contrary” (Advent, 111. Emphasis mine).
Much of life seems to lack “redemptive meaning.” We don’t understand. We trust God’s sovereignty even if we don’t fully grasp it. But one day…
This is why we don’t just celebrate Christ first coming. Church, we long for his soon return. Only then will things begin to make sense. We don’t see clearly know. We can’t see clearly through the tears. We can’t see clearly through the sorrow. But one day… One day Christ will wipe away all our tears and remove all our sorrows. The Spirit of God promises us, God will dwell with us, his people. “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4). What a day that will be!
Church. This is why we celebrate Advent. Jesus has come. And Jesus is coming again.
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price… He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:17,20).
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