Advent: The Real Promise Keeper

A favorite Advent reflection for me is meditating on the many ways Jesus comes to us:  He comes as the Living Word and the Living Water, as the Way, the Truth and the Life, as the Bread of Life and the Light of the World.  And so much more.

One of my favorite ways that Jesus comes is as the real Promise Keeper.

As I have joined with others in going through advent with the Deeply Loved devotional by Keri Wyatt Kent, I loved stopping at day 11 to “Meditate on the Promises of God. “And oh what promises our God has made to us:  forgiveness, a relationship with God, abundant life and eternal life, peace, comfort, hope….And one more that I love: He hears and answers prayer.Another Advent devotional I am reading through is Enuma Okoro’s Silence—and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent. It gives a different twist to those days preceding the coming of Jesus—it is written from the perspective of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.

And there I was reminded of a wonderful promise of answered prayer.

How many times have you cried out, “How long, O Lord!?!”: “... How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

I know I have said those words.  I imagine you have as well.

We yearn, we despair, we hope, we weep, we believe—waiting on the answer to our prayers.

There is another who surely asked that question, for seemingly unanswered prayer, for longing and waiting.His name is Zechariah.  He and Elizabeth had pleaded and waited for a child for decades.

On Day 4 of Advent, this verse jumped out at me:“Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard.” (Luke 1:13a)

This message was delivered by a heavenly messenger, assuring Zechariah that he had nothing to fear—and that his decades of prayer for a child had not fallen on deaf ears.  God had heard.  And now was the right time for God’s answer.  His son, John the Baptist, would prepare the way for the coming Christ.

And that was the message God gave to me.My emotions—in “how long, o Lord?” times—cause these kinds of thoughts and questions:

Are you listening, Lord?  Do you care?

What about the promises?  Can I believe you?

Fear reigns—fear for the future of my loved one.  Will he ever really change?

So is there sin in my life that blocks my prayers?  Or am I just not effective at all at praying?

Will hope ever be fulfilled, or will hope always be disappointed?I could go on.  I’m sure you have asked these and other questions.  But the right answer to these questions is not in things turning out the way I want, in my pain leaving, in the answer to prayer I desire.

The answer is in God, in who He is, in what He is like.  I never understand what He is doing or how He is working.  But I do know that He does all things well, that He is good and is always looking for ways to do good to us, that His promises are true and can be trusted.

And I can know, with Zechariah, that my prayers have been heard.

So, in this time of good news and celebration that is often full of bad news and disappointment for those of us who wait for an answer, may you know that God has heard your prayers and His answers will be right and at the right time.What about you?  What prayer are you waiting to see answered?

C2012 Judy Douglass