December 10 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: To the God who pursues. Our world is groaning around me and my heart groans with it. So many tears and questions, so many stillborn children, so much cancer and divorce, so many orphans and so much poverty. Closing my eyes doesn’t make the wailing stop; doesn’t turn the grief into joy. I hear your Spirit groaning with me, taking the cry of my heart to your throne. Hear our groans. Have mercy on us. (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Scripture Reading for the Day: Hebrews 2:5-18

Reading for Reflection: I don’t know about you, but I struggle pretty regularly with loneliness. It is a wrestling that has gone on for years, but one that has only been accentuated by the life and terrain I find myself in these days. It is not something that is fun, either to struggle with or to admit, but my suspicion is that all of us, to some degree, walk pretty regularly alongside this hidden companion. Is he friend or is he foe? I think my answer through the years would have normally tended more toward the foe category, but these days I’m not so sure. Could it be that this loneliness is a companion that has a lot to teach me if I am willing to listen; one that can be a guide and a friend if I choose to embrace him rather than run away? Could it be that loneliness can produce some fertile ground for God to do a work deep within me? Could it be that loneliness is a gift?

Loneliness seems to be a part of a much larger family - the family of groaning. Paul wrote about it often, both in Romans 8 and 2 Corinthians 5. Groaning is something that comes up from deep within us as we live in a broken world and long for the creation intent (shalom) of God to be our constant and current reality. It is almost as if the brokenness of the world - and even the brokenness of our own hearts - was given to us as a gift. A gift to let us know that there is something (or Someone) more. A gift that serves as a constant invitation for us to lean into, or seek, or watch and wait for that more to appear among and within us. So whether I call the groaning loneliness or disappointment or depression or insecurity or anxiety, or whatever it may be at the moment, groaning is a gift. It is a gift because it is a doorway to something God desires to do deep within us.

So during this season of Advent, this season of watching and waiting and groaning, let us embrace the groaning in whatever form it may present itself, rather than trying to avoid, deny or escape it. Because God is in the midst of it. He is up to something in the groaning that could be accomplished no other way. He is using it to make us holy, like our brother, and Savior, Jesus. Thanks be to God!

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Darlene Johnson is a member of MTW’s church-planting team in Nagoya. She teaches conversational English and evangelistic Bible studies and is involved in choral and instrumental music ministry. Pray today for Darlene’s witness to her new friends. Pray also that they might benefit from some of the events at church leading up to Christmas.

Campus Renewal Ministries is a National Christian Ministry devoted to seeing transformation on college campuses for God’s glory. They have been around for over 15 years and work with colleges all across America. Pray today for their leaders to have a renewed vision for ministry on UT’s campus as they plan for the spring semester.

Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that you entered this groaning world and experienced all that we experience. And thank you that, because of that, you know the depths of our groans and how to help us in the midst of our groaning. Thank you that, because of your cross, one day that groaning will be no more. Amen!