Advent Devotion - Day 16


December 12, 2022

Join us through this special time of Advent as we dive deeper into the Word of God. Each day, we will pray and reflect on a different passage from Scripture. Daily Readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, and reflections are written by our church staff.

Opening Prayer:

Dear God,

Speak gently in my silence.
When the loud outer noises of my surroundings
and the loud inner noises of my fears
keep pulling me away from you,
help me to trust that you are still there
even when I am unable to hear you.
Give me ears to listen to your small, soft voice saying:
“Come to me, you who are overburdened, and I will give you rest . . .
for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Let that loving voice be my guide.


- Henri Nouwen

Scripture Reading:

Isaiah 29: 17-24 NRSV

17 Shall not Lebanon in a very little while
  become a fruitful field
  and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?
18 On that day the deaf shall hear
  the words of a scroll,
and freed from gloom and darkness
  the eyes of the blind shall see.
19 The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD,
  and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
20 For the tyrant shall be no more,
  and the scoffer shall cease to be;
  all those alert to do evil shall be cut off—
21 those who cause a person to lose a lawsuit,
  who set a trap for the arbiter in the gate
  and undermine justice for the one in the right.

22 Therefore thus says the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

“No longer shall Jacob be ashamed;
  no longer shall his face grow pale.
23 For when he sees his children,
  the work of my hands, in his midst,
  they will sanctify my name;
they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob
  and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.
24 And those who err in spirit will come to understanding,
  and those who grumble will accept instruction.”


Several years ago, when my family and I were living in Santiago, Chile, life for me was hard. It was hard in a million different ways. I was living in a culture that was not my own, trying to communicate in a language that was not my first, raising a baby without the nearness of my extended family, and surviving on very little money in a tiny apartment downtown that just so happened to be located right in the center of political protests that lasted about a year–leaving our windows shattered and our home (and eyes) tear-gassed one too many times.

One day, my husband came home and said, “let’s move to the coast!” I laughed it off, thinking it was one of those dream-out-loud situations, but then he went to work putting together a business plan and creating a partnership with a businessman he knew. All the pieces were falling into place. We traveled to the coast, picked out a big two-story house with the tiniest sliver of an ocean view, and began packing our things to move. Then, about a week before the moving trucks were scheduled to come and collect our things, our business partner pulled out of the deal, and everything seemed to fall apart.  

We ended up moving to the coast anyway, trusting that God would provide what we needed. It was one of the best decisions we could have made. Almost immediately, we found a church, friends, and a peaceful life. We created a wildly successful company, expanded our family, and learned to laugh again. God also transformed my heart, which had begun to grow bitter, into a heart filled with gratitude.

I think back on those difficult days in Santiago. It was hard then to be hopeful about the future because I was stuck, focusing on all the trying circumstances surrounding me instead of all the blessings in my life. But, over time, and through gratitude, I began to see things more clearly. I began to see those difficult years as the gift they were. God used my isolation to break bad habits and mature me; He used experiencing poverty to teach me to appreciate the smallest of things, and He used living through scary and dangerous situations to show me different sides of His character.

Daily Challenge:

This week, I want to encourage you to practice gratitude. This is the best way to start and end your day. Gratitude is the practice of being present to the goodness of God and being thankful for what we have in our lives. There are many different ways to express your gratitude to God. For example, you can journal, pray, meditate, or list a few things you are grateful for aloud or on paper each day and then thank God for those things. 
Today's reflection is written by:
Jessica King

Director of Connections
Church of the Servant
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