Ironically, I find one of the most comforting aspects of the Advent season to be the paradox that is inherent within the Christmas story. A precious baby, the Savior of humanity, was born in a manager as He was hunted by a mad king. This is the perfect image of beauty and pain residing side by side. As a counselor, I see so much of this during the holidays—painful family dynamics or circumstances existing simultaneously alongside the celebration of the birth of our King Jesus, who saved us from sin and separation from God. I need to know that both can be true—that I can hold pain in one hand and beauty in the other, and I can begin to reconcile the dissonance brought forth by faith in a truly worthy God.
We can move through the confusion that trial brings by drawing strength from narratives like Joseph’s. Joseph held tight to the knowledge that he was not to lean on his own understanding, but acknowledge God in all his ways and He would set his path straight (Proverbs 3:5). There are times when this posture of faith is so disorienting, particularly when we are in a valley. However, Joseph shows us insight into how we can regulate our sight and begin the climb out of the darkness. In this story, Scripture reads that “the Lord was with Joseph and Potiphar noticed this” (Genesis 39:3-4). We must abide in Him, as He abides in us. Through this union, we allow love, humility, and generosity of Spirit to guide us through dark times. And maybe, as in Joseph’s case, we will see God do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). I believe Joseph understood that pain and beauty are not mutually exclusive. I believe he understood that the paradox of the Kingdom of God was either from or through a good and faithful God. Because of this strongly held belief, Joseph received trying circumstances from a place of contentment, finding comfort in the sovereignty of the Lord. During Advent, I desire to drop any foolishly developed expectations of how I should curate this holiday, and I want to abide in my King. I pray this for you as well.