* This post is part of an Advent devotional, being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Monday: 8 December
Read: Isaiah 12
(Light two candles)
There is an old English word that occasionally surfaces in conversations about marriage engagements. In the past, we would say that a couple who intended to marry were betrothed to each other. The root for betrothed – troth – is related to our more common word truth. But there is a subtle and important difference. Truth is about technical accuracy: “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.” Truthfulness describes reality with unquestionable facts. However, troth approaches reality according to the certainty of covenantal relationships. It’s not that what happened is unimportant. Rather, troth operates on the belief that the most trustworthy facts of reality are relational.
Troth is all about trust, particularly when the hard reality of our circumstances appears hopelessly beyond our comprehension or our ability to control. Without resorting to a whimsical naivete that foolishly promises to be present, the truth of troth is born through the long road of endurance. Troth is embodied in the quiet companionship of a friend who sees our dreams deferred and sorrows multiplied. Troth anchors us when the ebb and flow of our foolishness threatens to undo us and the people around us. A trothful one enters our suffering, carrying us when we cannot stand or walk on our own. It is in the context of such steadfast relationships that trust emerges and gives birth to peace. Proverbs 18 describes this king of steadfast relationship when declaring that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” The capacity to trust, and therefore to experience peace, rests not in the immensity of pleasure, the volumes of success, or the absence of conflict within our present circumstances. Rather, we trust because of the certainty of another’s faithfulness toward us – both in terms of their desire and affection for us and the constancy of their presence with us.
In this Advent season, we remember that our peace is rooted in God’s faithfulness toward us in Jesus Christ. God makes known the height, depth, length, and breadth of love in Jesus Christ. In God’s faithfulness, we discover (perhaps, for the first time; perhaps, for the 10,000th time) that the greatest truth in life in not something we can hold onto; no, the greatest truth is troth-in-the-flesh, the God who refuses to be separated from us. Notice how today’s text (12:2) says “Surely God is my salvation” and not “God gives me salvation”. Our salvation is God. God’s trothfulness – God’s covenantal faithfulness to us – is the baseline reality within which we live. And the response called for by God’s troth is in the next line of Isaiah’s words: “I will trust and not be afraid.” Unshakeable peace becomes possible because God is trothful. The question to us then is this: Will we trust the God who became troth for us?
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may bring the unshakeable peace that causes all of creation to flourish! Amen.