13 Dec JOY
“For you have made me rejoice, Lord, by what you have done; I will shout for joy because of the works of your hands.” Psalm 92:4
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more because the previous things have passed away. Look, I am making everything new!” Revelation 21:4-5
I received a card in the mail from a dear friend this week. She wrote something very profound that I had seemed to overlook in scripture. She pointed out the scars Jesus had when He showed Himself to Thomas – even AFTER His resurrection – He still bore the scars of the pain He endured on the cross. It’s my best guess that Jesus still has those scars, even as He sits at the right hand of God, and that He’ll have those scars until the day He descends and all sin and death are conquered – giving way to full and utter restoration.
Jesus’ scars are evidence that He was fully God (with a resurrected body) and fully man (with physical scars). This time between His resurrection and ascension reminds me of the place we find ourselves in Advent – somewhere between joy of what has been and anticipation of what will be. My pastor refers to this idea as “The Already, But Not Yet.” We find joy in the already and anticipation for the not yet. We rejoice in the victory over sin through Christ’s resurrection, while anticipating full restoration of our scars. In the already His grace is revealed on Earth through glimpses of Heaven. The already is the joy we experience in the now. It is breaking bread with our community. It is remission from Cancer or being freed from the bondage of addiction. It is acting as the hands and feet of Christ to serve others during their suffering. The already allows us to see God’s goodness on Earth, and as a result we experience unmatched joy. It is the joy we have ALREADY discovered in God’s healing, victory, and peace this side of Heaven. It is the manifestation of Christ; God coming down to Earth as a baby, fully man and fully God. He has already come. He has already died. He has already risen…yet we still wait in anticipation.
It is already…but not yet.
The not yet is the promise of Eternity in Heaven. The promise of a restored body and a New Earth. The not yet is the longing of our human hearts for healing from pain, disease, and disability. It is the hurt we feel as a result of our sin because we have yet to be fully redeemed. It is the mother longing to hold her child again because we have yet to be fully restored. It is the violence we see between races because we have yet to be fully reconciled. But although we have NOT, we put our focus on the YET. And this turns our sorrowful longing into a joyful anticipation. The not yet is security in a promise, and this security allows us to proclaim JOY even when we have not. It allows us to proclaim joy in the midst of death, sin, and suffering. It is the joy in knowing a time of reversal is coming when death will be life, our sins will be cleansed, and our wounds will be healed. Our scars will be no more.
During Advent we reflect on the anticipation the world felt as they waited for their King to come. We rejoice in this event in history, because it changed our future forever. Simultaneously, we reflect on our own anticipation for the Second Coming of Christ and the Great Reversal. The longing of our hearts for these things, plus the joy of Jesus Christ brings us to a place of anticipation. We no longer LONG for restoration, redemption, and reconciliation; we ANTICIPATE them! We stand secure in God’s promise that our broken hearts will be fully redeemed, our broken relationships will be fully reconciled, and our broken world will be fully restored! And that my friends, is reason to rejoice!