She's not asking me why yet. She's a mighty little chatterbox who has lots of words in her vocabulary – functional words like shoe and milk, typical words like bye and outside, unusual words like tickle and clock, and fanciful words that only make sense in her toddler mind – but 'why' isn't a part of her life yet. She's still focused on the concrete, the names and the things and the places. The why is a detail that's harder to reach because we don't know to ask the question until we've run out of answers. The why requires a journey, and many times these broken vessels we call our selves never arrive at the destination.
And that is why faith can be so hard. 'Why' is not an easy question to answer. The expectation of hope can be beautiful, but the expectation of an arrival that has yet to come can be like a tiny flame in a dark winter night, waiting in peril for the slight draft that will blow it out.
For those of us who are experiencing a season of so much anticipation, so much expectation, while suffering through all the hurt and disappointment of the seasons before, guarding that candle's flame can feel like a lost cause. What's the use in protecting a fire that doesn't appear to give enough light or warmth?
To everyone who is broken this season, to everyone who is weary and tired, to everyone who has battled loneliness or loss or addiction, fear of the unknown, unfulfilled dreams, illness, financial hardship, painful relationships, or suffering beyond what is even imaginable –
There is hope on the horizon.
That is what this season is meant to represent. Though much of our experience has taught us that joy is hard to come by and pain will inevitably prevail, what we've come to expect is not always what arrives. Joy is coming. We hold the candle to invite Him in so that the peace of His presence can fulfill what the flame cannot.
When she's older and asking me harder questions than “Cookie?”, she may find that at times, the answers don't fulfill the longing. They aren't meant to. There is more to seek beyond answers, beyond expectations. My prayer is that asking why would always point her back to 'who'.
We celebrate. We prepare. And we wait with yearning for the joy to come.