Faith in the midst of doubt

Published 5:13 pm Friday, December 11, 2015

It was all I could do to move the big flag down to half-staff at the intersection near our office. The wind was whipping around and made maneuvering the flag more difficult than you would imagine.

The reason for moving the flag, of course, was the recent tragedy in San Bernardino, where yet another mass murder occurred on December 2. Fourteen people were killed and another twenty one were injured. The married couple that carried out this unspeakable carnage left behind a six month old child. Can you even fathom the thoughts in their head?

The couple were reportedly “self-radicalized”. That is a term I have never even heard before this year. They brought just another moment of terror in a world that is growing increasingly afraid. People doubt about the ability of their government to protect them and it is beginning to dominate the discussion about who should be our next president.

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It is hard to maintain your faith when there seems to be such overwhelming evil in the world. Our doubts grow, fueled by the never ending stream of news coverage of tragic events.

Offering no solution to these problems, I can only suggest that now is the time to turn to your faith. What better time than that season of Advent as we wait in anticipation of the coming of our Lord.

Like most in the rural south, I grew up with almost no awareness of the season of Advent. Sandwiched between Thanksgiving and Christmas, these four Sundays prior to Christmas have grown to mean much to me in a hurried and turbulent world.

As a Presbyterian, we light a different candle each week representing hope, peace, joy and love. We remember the promises of God with prayer.

We lift our eyes up, our arms up and even our souls up in anticipation of the coming light in a world of darkness.

Such prayers are appropriate in this time of darkness that seems to surround us around the world. We pray with the hope that our leaders will find a way to deal with the issues that lead misguided souls to innocently kill men, women and children.

We pray for peace, not only in the countries around the world that have been fighting in some cases for hundreds of years.

America’s own young adults have largely grown up not knowing a time when this country wasn’t fighting somewhere in the world.

We pray for joy. The joy that comes when the eyes of the blind are opened and the ears of the deaf are unstopped. We pray for the joy that comes as we are led from sorrow’s shadows into laughter’s joy over the abundant life that is possible when we follow the Lord.

We pray for love.

We are told to love all this world and all the people in it as we are loved in Jesus Christ. That is a difficult thing to do in today’s world, but through God, all things are possible.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, we light the white Christ Candle in the center of the Advent Wreath. We have watched; we have waited in hope. For peace. In Joy! With Love.

The prophet Isaiah said, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined”.

Faith is hard to maintain in times like these, when it seems like the darkness will never end. However, God’s promises never fail. May you have hope, joy, peace and love during this Advent season remembering the words from the book of Luke, “Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace, good will among men”.