You’ve seen her.
She grips a coffee cup in her hand, staring out the window while it grows cold.
Oblivious to you and others, her haunted eyes prick your soul. You can’t help staring, while her transparent pain pushes you away. Though you don’t want to intrude on a stranger, you continue to steal quick glances.
Or maybe you’ve passed her at the dog park. Her smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. You exchange brief greetings as your dogs sniff each other. As she walks past, you can’t help wondering about her story.
Do you see her?
Are you her?
Pain amid songs of joy.
Sparkling lights. Carols and cookies.
Happy couples and well-behaved children in matching jammies. Pain stuck in the mire of waiting.
The store shelves bulge with gifts you can purchase. Advent candles at Church dance in the darkness as bright symbols of waiting. Waiting and hope.
The first week of Advent represents hope.
But waiting for what?
- A child: Christmas Day to open those packages under the tree, of course 🙂
- A military family: waiting for your deployed loved one to return home safely
- Suffering from illness: waiting for an accurate diagnosis or for the treatment to be effective
- A parent of a faraway child: waiting to hear from or see them
- A wounded wife: waiting for the pain to vanish, for hope to return
When there is discord in your marriage, you experience waiting—a heart-wrenching time when you pursue God for answers to this pain.
You may wonder:
- What can I do to fix my marriage?
- What have I done wrong?
- Why can’t my spouse understand how this behavior deeply wounds me?
- What will others think?
- Is there any hope for reconciliation?
- How is this affecting the kids?
- Will this destructive behavior continue? And if it does, what do I do?
- Will my marriage be this way forever?
- Why can’t I be cherished for who I am?
- Do we have to celebrate Christmas this year?
- Is there any hope?
God says to be hopeful—in Jesus. He is our hope.
In Ephesians 5, we see a picture of God’s view of marriage. This passage, often misinterpreted and used to browbeat women into submitting to their husbands, begins with:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
According to God, marriage is a picture of His relationship with us.
Jesus took on flesh (the hope of Advent), lived among us, and experienced what it was like to live in our world.
Then, when we least desired or expected it, Jesus submitted to the Father’s perfect salvation plan and chose to die a brutal Roman death on a cross for your sin and mine. But the story doesn’t end there. Three days later, He broke through death by resurrecting from the dead.
Jesus taught us the true meaning of hopeful submission.
And his disciples showed us the difficulty of waiting.
When we struggle in our marriage—and we will because we are human—we have an opportunity to exemplify Christ to the other person.
And that is not always easy. Especially when you’ve been deeply hurt.
As the first week of Advent approaches, I choose to focus on hope. You can make that choice too. Your husband made a choice you couldn’t control. What you choose now is within your control.
Whether it’s the Advent season or any other time of year, choose to be hopeful.
Hope not only in what Jesus did when He came the first time, but also hope that He will come again and set the world right once for all. Families around the world celebrate by lighting the first purple candle of the Advent wreath to remember the fulfilled promise and the yet-to-be-fulfilled promise.
The words of the old Christmas Carol, “O Come, O Come Emanuel,” echo the concept of hopeful waiting.
The first stanza points back to Israel’s captivity and their hope of a soon return from exile. With its minor-key melody, we resonate with Israel’s pain of waiting.
O come, o come, Emmanuel
To free your captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
The last stanza points us to a future heavenly home. A place of safety where misery cannot reside. It is a place where God in His majesty and love exists for eternity. We cry out with humans from the beginning of time for God to fulfill our hope.
O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.
Peace in our hearts. Peace in our homes. Peace bringing hope.
Yet, hope doesn’t equal loss of pain.
Hope grounded in Jesus gives us:
- A new perspective about our current circumstances
- An offer of peace
- Security in unsure times
- Somewhere reliable to turn
- Assurance of a future in His care
So, this first week of Advent, where are you hopeful in your marriage?
The hope that remembers the good and looks forward to the better. Ask Emmanuel to come into your marriage and do His redemptive work.
Pray this with me today:
Jesus, You are hope. You provide peace and answers in pain and chaos. You tell me to come near and hold unswervingly to hope because You are faithful. Thank you for your faithfulness. Please teach me to hope in you even though life feels tough at the moment. Help me remember the good and seek the better.
If you need help, please reach out. I promise to listen without judgment and help you take the next step.