Rejoice!

I’ve had a pretty bad last few days. A friend of mine hurt my feelings pretty bad the day before Thanksgiving. And then I spent Thanksgiving alone, which was a first for me and, although I actually enjoyed it, it was sad not being with my family or close friends. And then over the weekend, a person I’ve been romantically interested in for a year or so, and very good friends with for almost two years, gave me some news. I knew he had been interested in another guy for quite some time. But on Sunday, he dropped a bomb on me and let me know that they had decided to get married. It really hurt. I’ve been super upset since then.

And so for the last few days, I’ve been lost in my thoughts. I couldn’t sleep. I haven’t wanted to talk to anyone. I’ve been very introspective and contemplative. I’m wondering why God is bringing me this pain right now as I approach the 1-year anniversary of my mother’s death, and as I am still so unsettled and confused after the recent presidential election. What is God trying to show me in all of this? Is God even there? Is there any hope to be found in all of this? Why does my future all of a sudden look so empty, so lonely, so sad?

In the midst of all of this, I’ve been distracted with the fact that it is the beginning of the Advent season, one of the most beautiful, meaningful, and sacred times of the year to me. Over the weekend, I set up my Christmas tree and made a homemade Advent wreath. And this past Sunday night, the first night of Advent, I attended a truly sublime Advent Lessons and Carols service at my church. The service ended with a profoundly beautiful singing of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. Three different choirs alternated singing verses along with the church filled with around 500 people. It was uplifting and spine tingling. And since then, I’ve been singing the song in my head over and over.

Tonight, on the car ride home from work, as I was stuck in gobs of traffic, I put “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” on the stereo. I found myself meditating on the refrain:

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

And it just hit me. Why am I consuming myself with sadness, and bitterness, and hopelessness? God is with me (Emmanuel!) in the midst of all of this. In spite of all of these bad feelings, I should rejoice in knowing that God’s peace is within reach. God’s grace and love and care surround me and are within me, no matter what befalls me. I shouldn’t be sad, rather I should rejoice in knowing these things.

And peace began to wash over me. It’s amazing how God can speak to us in the most mundane of ways. I think it speaks to the wonder of who and what God is…God is with us, in the midst of our daily lives. In the stranger, in the gentle breeze that blows, in the storm clouds that thunder and rain, in the raging fire, and in the swells of the sea. God’s presence supersedes all that we experience, and all we must do is listen with our eyes and we will hear it through all of our senses.

God’s peace does, indeed, surpass all understanding. And for this, I am truly thankful.

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Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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