Bright lights, cute nativity sets, and decorated trees belie the mess that most of us live in and with.
I’m not suggesting that our homes are disorderly or untidy, that dishes usually pile up in the sink, or that laundry normally spills out of our closets. Those things may be true, but it’s our internal lives that need order. Relationally, emotionally, and spiritually we frequently find ourselves in a mess.
We struggle to connect well with others—even those closest to us. We wrestle with stress, anxiety, grief, or fear. And our pursuit of God slows to a standstill. We have moments of breakthrough, of course; brief seasons of inspiration and improvement in each area. But we then descend again into the abyss.
We’re a mess, more often than not, which makes this season of Advent so important. We await a Savior, and Advent reminds us that God specializes in turning our mess into His miracle.
The Bible opens by telling us that the earth was formless and void. Chaos reigned. And the Lord said “Let there be …” and order arrived. The miracle of creation was not just making something out of nothing (ex nihilo) but also bringing order out of disorder.
But sin reversed the miracle.
The coming of Christ addresses not merely the chaos of the cosmos. He offers hope to each of us. He transforms our disarray and despair.
The story of Jesus’ birth is knee-deep in mess. An unwed pregnancy—socially unacceptable. A long trip to Bethlehem, at a cost they could ill-afford—financially overwhelming. The birth of the baby without a home, a doctor, or a sanitary natal-care unit—physically hazardous. The exile to Egypt to escape the jealousy and neurosis of Herod—emotionally wrenching. And so the story continues.
Yet, the Father worked through it all. He turned the mess into a miracle—salvation for all humanity. And the transition from mess to miracle rests on the name of that child. Emmanuel: “God is with us.”
In a mess at the moment?
Look beyond the dishes, the laundry, and the cleaning. Consider your inner life. Then lift your eyes again to Emmanuel, and experience the miracle.