I've noticed that since beginning this infertility journey, Advent takes on a different feeling. Advent makes me almost... melancholy.
Which I realize seems very silly.
After all, this is the season of light! Of hope and peace and joy and love. Of Emmanuel come to earth, God with us. God with us.
But that doesn't change the fact that Advent is also, in the most human terms, the time when the world waits for a birth.
The whole season is centered around a baby, around maternity. A very special baby, and a miraculous maternity, but even so...
And then of course, this season is full of seeing lots of relatives, watching families grow (and, if you're in my family, at least one soon-to-be mama every year), of people asking when it will be your turn, the far-away relatives with another little smile added to the photo card...
This is a difficult season.
In fact, last December, I didn't put out a single post on this little blog. Not one. I would think that it was in part because things were busy, but I also know that I was dealing with an Advent of infertility for the first time, and those waters were hard to navigate.
This year, I decided that I want to be more intentional about not just surviving Advent, but celebrating it. Cherishing it. Growing through it.
The first week of Advent is often considered the week of Hope.
Me and hope, we've had our hard times.
See, hope can hurt, can disappoint, and can devastate.
But often, that's when I know that my hope isn't in the right place. God never wants us to trust solely on the things of this earth. It can (and will) all be taken from us. That's the painful truth. I mean, just look at Elizabeth in the book of Luke. She was barren and her prayers were answered. She got the miracle. And thirty years later, her pride and joy and only son, her miraculous son, was beheaded by Herod. Not a happy ending. Life is painful, but we know that God's plan is worked out even in our pain.
Our hope shouldn't be a worldly hope, but should instead be the hope that comes from the knowledge that our God is good, and that He has died to save us.
I don't know that I'll ever have a child. I don't know. There are many who never have children, people more deserving and stable and wonderful and faithful than I am. It may never happen.
But whether or not I have a baby, the goodness of God won't change.
I can wait expectantly, because I know that He loves me and will work great things in my life, and will work great things through me. I know that what seems to be a closed door could very well be an amazing and unexpected opportunity. My expectations are often way off.
I'm going to go ahead and issue a challenge.
Because I'm just so challenging.
I can go on and on about hope (because it's been one theme that's resurfaced quite a few times this year). But I want to challenge you to go and spend some time in the truth this week- finding hope through God's word.
This week, read the book of Romans. Yep, the whole thing. It's a long book, I know, but there's so much about hope in there.
And then to make it sink in even further...
I've found the SOAP method to be really influential for me in my Bible study. Of course, you can choose how intensive you want to make this study, but be intentional about it.
S-Scripture. If you have the time, you could write out all 16 chapters, or you could choose two or three verses that stick out to you to write down. Writing out the verses helps me to remember them even better.
O- Observations. Note anything that sticks out to you, anything you have questions about, anything that you notice.
A- Application. What can you apply from this section? How can you grow from what the Bible is saying here? What needs to change in your actions or attitude?
P- Prayer. Pray over what you've learned, over the challenges you found, and pray about how to apply the chapter or verse to your life.
If you're struggling to conceive, I'd recommend reading what Sara says in this interview about hope (and while you're at it, check out her blog. She's got a firm foundation of faith in the midst of the storm. And you know what? Just consider it an early Christmas present to yourself and buy her book- Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet).
You can also check out some messages about hope here.
Edited To Include: Ann Voskamp posted this powerful message about hope, too... (my favorite quote? "Tears are never a sign of weakness. Tears are always the sign of an open heart."