‘Tis the Advent season. It comes every year. We hear the story. If you choose you can follow a devotional series to help prepare you for what is coming. Last year I compiled a devotional book for Advent with reflections from church members. This year I got two books out of the library that looked like they might be interesting. The first is God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The second is Handel’s Messiah: A Devotional Commentary by Joseph E. McCabe. My only problem is that I don’t often feel moved by these devotionals (not just these in particular but any devotional series). Maybe 2% of the devotional will feel in some way relative to me. The others I read through and think, “Great, now what?” But I’m trying to engage them in some way, trying to let them speak to me even if it is in some small way.
Eight days into the devotional and here is the first thing that struck me even though in a relatively small way. In McCabe’s devotional he says “He is not a God who spares us the battle. He is our God who is in it with us, all the way.”
I can’t speak for the rest of the world but the first part of this bothers me to some degree. I think we would all like to be spared the battle. We all have encountered battles in our lives whether big or small and have probably wished we could have done without them. A battle takes up energy. It is emotionally, spiritually, and physically draining. Just knowing that we won’t be spared battle can be hard to deal with.
However, the second part of the quote is comforting. Even though we have to endure whatever battle we are currently in the midst of, God is there fighting it with us. The first thing that came to mind is Lord of the Rings. One scene in particular came to mind was when Legolas and Gimli were fighting together at Helm’s Deep. They turned the battle into a contest to see who could kill more of the bad guys. I’m not saying that either of them is representative of God or humankind but you get the point. They were not alone in the battle but had someone to watch their back and keep them from becoming overwhelmed by the harshness of the battle.
While we might prefer to avoid battle all together it is comforting knowing that we are not alone.