rebelling against low expectations

What Advent Means to the Life in Crisis


“I feel like a tornado just ripped through our lives. We all survived, but it still caused devastation. There are still piles of wreckage to be dealt with. Still evidence of the tornado’s presence. And it didn’t just cause new pain, it tore the doors off rooms where old pain lay dormant and scattered it everywhere.”

I penned these words a few weeks after my momma came home from the hospital. On August 22nd, the tornado that landed her there hit with a dazed 911 call and a frantic drive to the emergency room. It lasted eleven days but felt more like eleven months.

Although it was undoubtedly the worst, it wasn’t the first tornado that tore through my life this year, and it wouldn’t be the last. Grief, sorrow, and worst fears being realized have closely followed me over these 365 days, chasing me like a threatening shadow in a nightmare I can’t wake up from.

Surveying the past year, tracing the paths of each twister that barreled through, has left me perpetually on edge. As the start of another year draws closer, I find myself pondering, “When will the next storm hit?”

Perhaps 2022 has left you asking the same question. Maybe, like me, you’ve found yourself living in dreadful anticipation of the next phone call, text, or email that will sucker punch you to the ground. I’m certain I am not the only one who feels followed—hounded—by crisis after crisis after crisis.

It’s Not Negative Thinking, It’s Biblical

The thing is, it’s not unbiblical to expect bad things to happen in this life. It’s not just “negative thinking” to anticipate trouble.

After all, Jesus Himself guaranteed, “In this world you will have trouble,” (John 16:33).

In 1st Peter we are told point blank not to be surprised when we do, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you,” (1 Peter 4:12).

In Philippians 4, Paul shares his personal experience of being brought low, facing hunger, and suffering need. Then in Romans 8:35, he asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?”

In short, tornados are not only possible, they are promised. Fiery trials aren’t strange, they’re normal. It’s not a lack of faith to expect them. However, they are not the only thing we should expect.

Because in the same passage that Jesus promised trouble, He promised something else, too: “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart because I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33, emphasis mine).

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget the significance of Christ overcoming the world and why it’s the perfect reason for me to take heart.

I forget that because Christ has overcome the world, I’m not just being followed by bad news, heartbreak, and devastating storms. I’m being followed by goodness and mercy and love, too.

Goodness and Love Came for Us

In what is possibly the most quoted Psalm, David closes with this bold statement, “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6

Notice, he didn’t say, “If I’m lucky, maybe I’ll experience some goodness in this life.” No, he said goodness and love would surely follow him. And I’m here to remind you, and myself, that it surely follows us, too.

But what does being followed by goodness and love look like?

Well, it looks like Christmas.

It looks like a good and merciful God condescending to our level of humanity, while maintaining His standard of holiness and divinity, that He might reconcile a sinful people unto Himself and pour out His love upon them.

Being followed by goodness and love looks like Christmas; a good and merciful God stooping to our level of humanity, while maintaining His standard of holiness, so that He might reconcile and pour out His love on sinful people. Share on X

In the garden of Eden, humanity chose sin, and in doing so, chose separation from a holy God. But God is not only holy; He is also goodness and love. They are all integral aspects to His character which He cannot deny. God can no more be divided from His goodness than He can from His holiness. So, when humanity chose separation from God, we chose separation from goodness. We chose separation from love.

But God would not let this separation last.

Not content to just let us walk away, He followed us. He came to earth as the Son of Man “to seek and to save the lost,” (Luke 19:10). He came to “take away sins” (1 John 3:5). He came to “give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He came as “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” to bring tidings of comfort and joy (Luke 2:12).

The nativity scene of Christ Jesus incarnate is picture proof of Goodness and Love’s pursuit of us. A pursuit that led Him all the way to the cross, where He defeated death, hell, and the grave. Where He overcame our sin. Where He “overcame the world” (John 16:33).

Because of His overcoming work, if we are in Christ, we are no longer separated from God the Father. We are no longer separated from His goodness or His unfailing love. Immanuel means God with us—Goodness with us, Love with us.

Goodness and Love Won’t Stop

Friends, goodness and love have not and will not ever stop pursuing us because God’s goodness and love never ends. It never runs out. Never fails. God is just as zealous about being good and loving towards us today as He was the day Christ was born in Bethlehem, the day He was crucified on the cross, and the day He rose from the grave.

That is why we can take heart. That is why we can have peace.

That is why regardless of when the next storm hits, the other shoe drops, or the worst fear is realized, we can be confident, as David was, that God’s goodness and love are right beside us all our days. Share on X

That is why regardless of when the next storm hits, the other shoe drops, or the worst fear is realized, we can be confident, as David was, that God’s goodness and love are right beside us all our days.

Reassured of this truth, I feel Love’s hand grasp mine, and I peer back at the wreckage. There amidst the debris, a glimmer catches my eye . . . a message from a friend letting me know I’m not alone.

Another glimmer … a care package at my door. Another glimmer … peace embracing my anxious heart. More glimmers still … a text message, a sympathy card, a hug from a loved one, a midnight phone call with a mentor, a reassuring word from an ICU nurse, a genuine smile after months of tears and frowns….

All around me, glimmers of goodness lay among the ashes and broken pieces.

Surely, Goodness will glimmer just as brightly, and Love will be just as faithful in the coming year.

“I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say on the Lord!” -Psalm 27:13-14

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About the author

Tabitha Bell

Tabitha Bell is a writer, Managing Editor of The Rebelution, co-host of Do Hard Things with The Rebelution Podcast, and a "natural" redhead. Her passion is encouraging others to live in faithful obedience and to abide in Christ regardless of their circumstances. She resides in South Texas with her rescue dogs, Jane and Millie, a pair of gentle giants. Hobbies include singing, cross stitching, studying theology, trying new recipes, and tending to her sourdough starter, Fitzy. To hear snippets of her ever-growing Peace Playlist, and receive encouragement, follow Tabitha on Instagram.

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By Tabitha Bell
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →