“You dwell in broken hearts and low valleys just as much as joyful hearts and mountain tops.”
I came across a quote from Sarah Bessey this week. It is part of an Advent prayer for this second week of Advent. Honestly the entire writing had very little to do with this brief portion of a prayer. Yet of all the things I read, this has wrecked me the most.
It has often been said that it is easier to praise God in the victories of life. When difficult times come, rather than thanking God for the gift of grace, we may find ourselves questioning God’s love and care. When despair and desolation come, it seems as though God has left, abandoning us in our darkest moments.
But Jesus tells us another story. Jesus, the God-being who entered into our darkness through literal flesh and blood, is the epitome of a God who does not leave us to flounder in desperation. This baby who we so eagerly anticipate during Advent is the very One who holds us in the midst of every storm. Every high place. Every valley.
I work in a hospital where people need daily reminders that God is present with them. Death and decay surround them. Uncertainty and fear grip them. Evidence of violence and injustice are lurking around every corner. Sometimes the darkness seems completely overwhelming. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
And yet, if the Psalmist is to be believed, even in our anguish, the Lord is our shepherd. The Lord walks with me and you, the Lord leads us to still waters. And even when we walk through the shadow of death, even when our enemies surround us, even when it seems as though all hope is lost, still, the Lord is with us.
What could our todays and tomorrows look like if we truly believe that God dwells in broken hearts and low valleys, just as much as God dwells in joyful hearts and mountain tops? How would we navigate this moment differently if we could hold on to the peace that God IS with us?
In this Advent week on peace, maybe the very reminder we need to hear is that in the midst of it all, God is with us. In every high and every low, God is still with us. When all seems hopeless, God is with us. When peace seems impossible to find, God is still with us.
You, God, dwell in broken hearts. You dwell in low valleys and in desperation. You dwell in the darkest of places, just as much as you dwell in hearts full of joy and moments of victory or celebration. You, God, dwell in every nook and cranny of this world. You have not hidden your face from us. You are here. God with us.
May the God of peace hold you this week as you walk through valleys and mountain peaks. May the God of peace surround you with the presence of the Holy Spirit so that this week you can know and trust that God is with you.
- Pastor Kristin