Unsettling Advent, Day 2 - Word&Way

Unsettling Advent, Day 2

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 5:20)

The image of shoes piled by the door into our home remains etched in my memories of the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband, an attending physician at a large, urban hospital, shed them there to try to keep the dangerous virus out.

In the early stages, without a steady supply of new PPE, medical personnel risked infection every time they went to work. There were so many things we did not understand yet about the virus. Anxious days, when it was hard to have a coherent thought, were followed by sleepless nights. Where was God in this turmoil?

On one of the darkest days, a call came from one of my divinity school professors to check on my husband. I tried to relay to her the obstacles we were facing. She promised that the faculty would pray for him and his coworkers during their meeting the next day. I thanked her, but I quickly went back to stewing in my worries.

Sometime the next afternoon, though, my fear broke almost like a fever leaving my body. I felt the interventional prayer just like the paralyzed friend that was lowered by the faithful four directly to the feet of Jesus in Luke 5:17-26. I was set free because of the faith of friends that intentionally carried me to Jesus when I was frozen with fear.

At a May 12, 2021, event in front of the White House in Washington, D.C., Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, places shoes to honor the more than 400 registered nurses who had lost their lives caring on the front line of COVID-19. (Paul Morigi/Associated Press)

Everything did not miraculously get better, but I was able to see with clearer eyes the tiniest in-breakings of God. A church member dropped off an extra box of masks left over from a painting project to make sure my husband had PPE to wear each day. My teenaged son’s friend wrote a kind note of thanks to my husband for his work. Texts and calls came in from friends and family far away. It was the prettiest spring anyone could remember.

All were tiny glimmers of hope — the same hope in the darkness which we have during the season of Advent. In the depths of grief and loss, often we cannot verbalize our own laments. We may seek the presence of God but be unable to take the first step. This is when we must rely on our faith communities to voice these cries and to carry us to restoration. When has your community carried you? Are you seeking opportunities to lift up others and carry them to the feet of Jesus?

Sarah Blackwell is a contributing writer at Word&Way and a 2020 graduate of the Gardner-Webb School of Divinity. She is a former deacon and volunteers with youth and young adults at Providence Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. Follow her writings at proximitytolove.org.


NOTE: This is part of our Unsettling Advent devotionals running Nov. 28-Dec. 24. You can subscribe for free to receive them each morning in your inbox.