Third Saturday of Advent: Born a Friend

By Jamie Donne

Advent Devotional | December 23, 2017

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.

 —Ephesians 2:11-14 (read Ephesians 2)

For ten years, I dealt with varying degrees of chronic pain and found few answers about why this was occurring. Possible treatments always came with side effects that seemed just as bad as the issue itself. So I prayed, wrestled, and trusted the Lord to guide me perfectly.

I wanted a miraculous breakthrough of healing. But after years of wrestling, I decided to schedule a small surgery.

I scheduled it for December 17th, and my doctor warned me that it might take weeks to feel normal again. I thought to myself, stubbornly, “A few weeks? She has to tell people that. I’m very strong, so that probably means a few days for me.”

Surgery was the last resort for me, and it felt like the embodiment of hopelessness. It felt like defeat. I spent the days leading up to December 17th reminding myself of Advent hope. Each time I struggled to hope, I remembered the One who came to earth to draw near and make me a friend.

After the surgery, I laid in bed, alternating between sharing my disappointment with God and numbing my emotions with “Grey’s Anatomy” reruns. I thought this would be a speedy recovery, but with each passing hour, I was faced with my own weakness. This led to more struggle, but it was also an opportunity to draw near to the One who sees everything—every moment of pain, and every choice to hope.

Less than a week later, I waddled to my seat at my church’s Christmas Eve service. As we sang one of my favorite carols, “O Holy Night,” we sang an often skipped-over verse:

In all our trials born to be our friend
  He knows our need, to our weakness no stranger
  Behold your King, before Him lowly bend

I wept at the truth of the words. The King who is my friend is no stranger to every weakness that I feel. My Maker knows every question, every physical weakness, and every moment of confusion that I experience. He was born for this.

And when He comes near to us, He breaks in with peace. Even more than this—in every overwhelming impossibility, Jesus Himself is our peace.

I wanted the miraculous breaking in of His healing power. Instead, as I sat in church on Christmas Eve and sobbed, I remembered the greatest miracle of all—the King of Kings entered our world to make me His friend when I was still an enemy.

We were once strangers without hope. and now we have been brought near by the One who entered our world. This is both a cosmic truth of salvation and an ever-present truth of God’s work in our lives. We weren’t just brought near once, but every time that we are far off, God draws us closer to Himself.

And I need to be brought close, again and again.

My surgery decreased my pain, but it continues. Jesus broke into one of my deepest moments of suffering with His mercy and hope, but I long for the fullness of hope and healing—I look to the coming day when every bit of pain is wiped away.

In the season of Advent, we long for the completion of our hope. We long for our Friend to come near.

Come, Friend. Come, Prince of Peace. Come, Lord Jesus.

Jamie Donne serves as CCO campus ministry staff at Washington & Jefferson College. She was a part of a CCO ministry as a student at Kent State University before joining
staff in 2008.