Editor's note: "An uncommon Advent: the arrival of a Savior in our lives" is a sampling of biblical meditations composed by members of the Concordia University Wisconsin community. It is our prayer that you will take time during the Advent season to read and reflect upon God's Word and await the coming of Jesus with newfound anticipation and zeal through the Holy Spirit.

December 22 -The obstacles and anxieties of advent

Isaiah 43:1-24 and Revelation 9:13-10:11

Mary and Joseph likely felt a bit overwhelmed. They were required to complete a 90-mile desert journey, probably on foot, and Mary was almost 9 months pregnant. They were in Bethlehem instead of their hometown because the king wanted more taxes. They were in crowded quarters, and the guest rooms were already full.

It is unlikely you have completed a 90-mile hike while 9 months pregnant to satisfy the IRS, but all of us have challenges. Does Advent overwhelm you? Late December can bring anxiety with trips to take, preparations to make, and things to buy. In the name of celebrating Christ’s birth, we may become distracted from that miracle.

Into such obstacles and anxiety, Isaiah (whose name means “the Lord saves”) speaks comfort from our Lord: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine!” Isaiah recalls the miracle of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, along with possible foreshadowing of the fiery furnace to be faced by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)

God bought us back—redeemed us—from the domination of the Devil. Things that should destroy us will not consume us because the Lord is with us. Yet that is not all. Isaiah then shared the Lord is announcing something never seen before: “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people” (Isaiah 43:19-20).

God is doing a new thing, making paths where there is only wilderness, and bringing life-giving water where there is only desert by meeting us in the person of Jesus Christ. Why would he do that? King David asks that question in Psalm 8, and it is right that we ask it now in response to Jesus’ birth. The answer is that we are the people God has made for Himself, that we might declare His praise. Find ways to declare His praise in everything you think and do today.

-Dr. Michael Borst is associate professor of occupational therapy and has served at CUW since 2007. View a full schedule of “An uncommon Advent” readings here.

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