For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. –Ecclesiastes 3:1
Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
As I packed up my family for a road trip last February, I had no idea of the life-changing situation ahead. While the sun set on a rural interstate filled with holiday traffic, a car made an illegal left turn in front of us. With no warning, at freeway speed, we slammed into the small sedan. An eyewitness said it looked like a Hollywood stunt timed for maximum impact. Our vehicle pole vaulted five feet into the air and landed facing traffic. The other car shot into a nearby field.
We scrambled from our car and immediately realized numerous miracles at hand: seatbelts and airbags worked; emergency personnel responded with speed and care; we had no major injuries. I huddled over my wife and children, cold and dazed, and choked out a prayer of gratitude, “Thank you, God, for my family.”
But a different prayer was being offered near the other vehicle. Sadly, one person was killed, another critically injured. A third person escaped the wreckage and prayed loudly for those still trapped. This was a painful prayer of lament.
The “teacher” reflected on the meaning of life saying there is “a time to laugh; a time to mourn” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Some who read this devotional rejoice because God comes this Advent in miraculous life-giving ways. Others experience loss, wondering where God is in the midst of pain. On this New Year’s Day, both emotions are appropriate. As we await God’s coming, let’s offer honest prayers of thanksgiving and lament, for he will be with us no matter what the season.
God, please come in our joy and our sorrow. Visit us even when we feel unable to find you. Thank you for hearing both our prayers of praise and pain.
This was originally published in Fresno Pacific University's Seminary Advent Devotional, available at https://www.fresno.edu/sites/default/files/final-calendar.pdf