With Christmas coming up, there’s a lot of talk about advent, and waiting for Jesus to come. Devotionals, and church services, and pastors, and radio hosts talk about how this is a season of yearning and longing. But sometimes it doesn’t feel like that, does it?
Our lives and our seasons of yearning don’t always line up with advent, which leaves us feeling a bit disconnected from the feeling of longing. We’re not longing right now, and it makes it hard to really experience the miracle of Christmas all over again.
So today I want to revisit what Jesus was sent for, and revisit some of our seasons of longing as well.
We are always longing for Jesus to come.
We just may not always realize it.
Isaiah 61:1-3 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.”
Let’s allow these verses to walk us through our own yearning and through what Jesus has done in our lives. I believe that if we revisit our own story and the story Jesus has written on our hearts, it will be impossible not to yearn, and be filled with gratitude that the yearning has already been answered.
Jesus came to:
1. Proclaim good news to the poor.
Sometimes we think of poor as being a particular tax bracket, but I want to widen our definition today. We are all “the poor” at different times in our lives. Maybe you were the person who no one could ever imagine coming to Jesus. Maybe you were the outsider. Think about a time when you were the furthest you’ve ever been from God.
We’ve all been there—we’ve all yearned for His good news. We’ve all longed to be saved. Now think about how He searched for you and found you. Think about how He saved you—how His good news brought you back to life.
We’ve all been in a place of spiritual yearning and, I hope, we all have been in a place of receiving what we were yearning for. That’s what Advent and Christmas are all about.
2. Bind up broken hearts.
Think of a time when you were broken hearted. I bet many of us could raise our hand and say, “I’ve been the most messed up, broken person you could ever know.” We’ve all been crushed in our spirits, our minds full of lies, doubts, and fears. We’ve all been that broken person with no hope of pulling ourselves back together again. But that’s our reason to celebrate right there, because that’s the moment when Jesus shows up. He comes and heals us from the inside out.
3. Free the captives.
We can all identify with this in different ways, because we all have been captives. Our captors have looked different. Some of us have been slaves to drugs, or alcohol, or sexual addiction. Some of our bondage has been harder to recognize—pride, fear, insecurity. But all of us have been captives at some point. All of us have been slaves to something we couldn’t escape from on our own. But Jesus came to bring freedom to the captives, to set us free from chains we couldn’t untangle on our own.
Let that truth wash over you for a moment. Consider who you were, what you were a slave to. Remember what life looked like back then. Now look around at your life today and remember all He’s done for you. That’s a longing met.
4. Release the prisoner from darkness.
Have you ever lived in darkness? I bet many of us have. Maybe you didn’t know Jesus—maybe the darkness you’ve experienced was an absence of His light. Or maybe the devil had a foothold in your life, in your mind, or in your heart. Maybe you were caught up in a sea of rebellion, unsure of how to get back to the surface.
Whoever you are, whatever your story is, we all have had times in our lives when we were in darkness and Jesus penetrated that darkness and brought us into His glorious light.
5. Comfort those who mourn.
Think back to a time when you were mourning—someone you love passed away, you lost something you cared about deeply, a relationship ended. Think back to what it felt like to mourn, the great depths of your sorrow.
Now think about what Jesus did in that situation. Think about how Jesus came to you when you were in the deepest sadness of your life—how He comforted you. Think back to how He brought hope and peace to you when no one else could.
6. Provide for those who grieve in Zion.
We never desire times when we don’t have what we need. In fact, we desire the exact opposite. We don’t want God to give us our daily bread; we want Him to give us enough bread to tide us over all year. But these times, these desperate places are when we see God’s goodness the most.
Think back to a time when you didn’t have what you needed, but God came through for you. Think back to when you didn’t have a job and how He gave you one, to when you didn’t know where your next meal would come from and how He took care of you.
As we go through this season of Advent, it may be hard to identify with the yearning. If you’re not in a season of yearning or a desperate time of need, it may be hard to understand this part of the season.
But the birth of Jesus is made even more miraculous because of the waiting and the yearning that came before it, and so I challenge you to remember a time when you yearned. Think back to a time when you needed God, when you were desperate for Him, when you felt stuck, locked up, in chains, and you really needed Him.
Reminding yourself of this place helps you remember and understand all over again why we really needed a savior and why Jesus’ birth was so miraculous.