by Sean Walker, Operations Coordinator for The Antioch Partners
The women’s piercing cries were more bone-chilling than the freezing air that winter day. I was standing in the snow outside a havli* in a remote Central Asian village to pay respects to the deceased brother and young niece of a colleague. The brother had tried to clear clogged water pipes using the only means available to him—a tank of propane. While his daughter watched by his side, the gas ignited, enveloping them in flames. As the men carried their coffins to the cemetery, the women followed, wailing and clutching one another in grief.
My heart broke as I shared their sorrow—a profound reminder of the fragility and pain of our humanity. But into the misery of our condition, God speaks words of hope and promise from Revelation 21. A time is coming when all suffering and sadness and death will be redeemed in God’s new creation, and God Himself will make His home with us. It sounds almost too good to be true!
But these words were spoken nearly 2,000 years ago, and still we long for deliverance (Romans 8:22–23). Has God forgotten His promise? Is it all just wishful thinking?
John’s Gospel reminds us that once before, God came and made His home with us: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14 ESV). By choosing to live among us, Jesus entered into the pain and tragedy of the human experience. He’s well acquainted with our grief, because He experienced it Himself (Isaiah 53:3). He wept, was rejected, suffered and even died. But He also defeated death, rising again to new life, and “put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come” (2 Corinthians 1:22 NIV).
This Good News is ours to share! Recall a time when God met you in a place of suffering or sorrow. How did you experience His presence? Ask God to show you situations where grief, pain and tragedy need to be met with empathy, encouragement and the hope of Jesus. How might God use you to embody His comfort and compassion for those still waiting for joy?
*a walled compound with a courtyard that serves as a multi-generational home
Read more from our Advent devotional series.