Grief, Advent, and Unanswerable Questions

I recently went to a routine doctors appointment where they ask you a thousand questions about your medical history. I rattled off the answers until the nurse asked the question I should have known was coming but didn’t.

“How many pregnancies?”

I don’t know exactly how much time it took me to answer. Probably 5-10 seconds or so. But in those few seconds I wrestled with how best to respond. And in those few seconds a lump lodged itself in my throat.

“Five,” I said.

Then the next question: “And how many children?” Again, the pause.

“Three,” I said. And then, in barely a whisper: “Here.”

The appointment continued. Then ended. I got in my car. Pulled out of the parking lot. And cried. And I thought about all the unanswered questions I have.

Whether you’re walking through loss, tragedy, sickness, or separation, we’ve all had the questions.

As I drove home, I had the thought, “Jesus, when will you come back? When will you dry every tear? When will there be no more death or crying or pain?”

Later that day one of my children expressed how hard it was to wait to open Christmas presents. “Why can’t we open them now? Why wait until a certain day?” He asked. “It’s so hard to wait!”

I told him when we wait to open our gifts, the anticipation reminds us of that first Christmas – of how the world was anticipating a Savior, of how his arrival rocked the world and was the fulfillment of so many promises. Of how now we await Jesus again, his second coming, when he’ll come not as a baby, but a conquering King, to make everything right.

Sometimes when we tell our children the truth, we’re really telling ourselves the truth, too.

Whatever’s hurting your heart this Christmas, know that the longing you feel—for peace, for rest, for rightness—is a GOOD longing to have. And it can only be fulfilled through Christ. One day everything will be made right, only because of him. That’s how I can live with the questions—because I know the one who is the Answer. That’s how I can rest here, now—because of hope.

And that’s the kind of hope that can make a weary world rejoice.

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