Week #4: "Are we there yet?" - an Advent reflection by Rina Carbol

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If you are a parent this phrase is all too familiar. If you cannot relate from a parental perspective, certainly you were once a child yourself and you might recall uttering this phrase every now and again. At face value, we see this question as a child’s way of expressing a feeling of impatience that stems from boredom. However, I am learning that there is much more to it than the obvious. When I look beyond the superficial I begin to see the profound emotions that hide behind this simple sentence.

Allow me to explain…In the last several months I have heard from a number of people, some close friends, some neighbors and some strangers, that life is “too hard.” Some are facing the loss of a loved one- through mental illness, sickness, disease, or an accident that took a life too soon. Some have received news that death will come sooner for them than they had anticipated. They have been told they have cancer. Nothing can be done. Still others are struggling through daily life as they deal with the limitations brought on by chronic medical conditions. In my own life, I seek relief from a deep sorrow that I wrestle with each day. I think it is when we are in the midst of this suffering that we are tempted to ask “Why Lord? How can such evil be allowed on this earth when you are the victor? Why do you allow us to hurt so much sometimes? Don’t you see the suffering of your children?”

I am wondering if the need to inquire of the Lord as to the “why” of it all, simply sums up that singular childhood question, “are we there yet?” In our impatience, do we see the suffering as only something we must endure? Or is it possible that suffering has a greater purpose? Perhaps, from the Lord’s perspective, it is actually a blessing.

Like the farmer presented in James 5:7-10, we sow seed and we find ourselves waiting, praying and hoping for the seasons to change and the rains to come. But sometimes it seems the rain will never come and our hunger and thirst threatens to overwhelm us. I am learning that it is only during these times of being burdened by the heaviness of life, that I sense the Lord moving me away from an impatient questioning to a place of complete trust in Him. When I fully surrender to Jesus; that place of truly knowing that I cannot change my circumstance, that I have no more control and my only hope comes from the Lord: this is when the love of the Father releases me from my personal circumstance and opens my heart to find full confidence in Him and his goodness.

"I wait for the Lord my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning…” This is where you will experience the blessing of suffering because you will find your hunger and thirst satisfied. O the joy that brings!

Just as Mary and Joseph trusted the Lord during their difficult journey on the road to Bethlehem and parenting, I encourage you to take refuge in Him so that you too can know His faithfulness. I think you will discover that you are no longer asking the question, “Are we there yet?”

- Rina Carbol