I don’t know about you, but for me it’s been a particularly sobering Advent.
While we’ve entered this season of hopeful expectation sometimes I feel positively hopeless in the face of racial injustice, gun violence, and torture at the hands of our own government. I want to believe that God is doing a new thing, but I am doubtful amidst the evils of the world. My faith fails me. I do not wait faithfully. Instead, I heave great sighs, I mourn, I turn away from God.
But do you know what I’ve realized?
God can take it.
God can take our anger, our sorrow, our pain, even our distrust. In a poignant reflection, Alece Ronzino talks about how even after several years of what she calls “spiritual detox,” God was still there, big enough to take her rejection, her skepticism, and her doubt.
Sure, Advent is our season of hopeful expectation in the Church, where we prepare our hearts for Jesus, where we wait as the ancient world once did for the birth of a savior, but isn’t it just as much about how God waits on us, faithfully and patiently, no matter how often we turn away in fear, anger, or sadness? Even as the prophets and the kings and the ordinary people in the Old Testament waited on God, God out-waited them. God out-waited their faithless acts, their petulance, their mistakes, and their fears. Despite them, God made something new, God brought a savior to this world, God redeemed and redeems, so don’t you think God can take it?
Sometimes I think we are the ones who can’t take it–we can’t take the paralyzing intimacy that God desires of us. We’re the ones who back away, not only from God, but from one another, convinced that it would be better to give up, than to be failed or to fail one another.
But God does not fail us.
God waits on this world just as God prepared the ancient one for thousands of years. God’s love is steadfast. And no matter our sinfulness or our betrayal, God does not turn from us, but rather accepts, forgives, and waits out our indiscretion. So as God waits on us and this fallen world, what would it be like this Advent if instead of turning from God, we turned toward God with all our anger, sadness, pain, fear, doubt, and even indifference? What if we threw all of our hopes and fears onto God and waited for God to do a new thing in and amongst us?
God can take it.