Sabotaged by grief. There remain few other words that so accurately describe the power of grief. Grief steals our stability and our sense of peace, crushes our hope. In our reading today, we find David in such a place. Completely shaken by loss, David makes it clear that his own death would be more bearable than the death of his son, even though we have seen the complexity of David’s relationship with Absalom. Therefore, it isn’t a stretch to believe that in the midst of his mourning David was also filled with regret. He had failed his son on many fronts throughout his lifetime. Even as he was awaiting news, he asked multiple times about his son’s safety. Yet even the power of a king can’t ensure that. What others view as victory is nothing but loss upon loss for David. Grief has a way of exposing our darker memories and thus leaving us with a feeling of hopeless emptiness. “My son Absalom, my son, my son . . . my son, my son!”
That is why it is comforting to know that David is in the very bloodline of Jesus Christ, another son who was sacrificed at the hands of the enemy. David’s story helps us to witness the depth of complexity that comes in sacrificing a son for the greater good—the greatest good. In Jesus, we find our source of stability and peace. Through him, even death has lost its sting. This leads us to a core principle: If things are not good, God’s not done yet. Knowing this allows believers to walk in hopeful confidence. David’s story doesn’t end with the death of Absalom, nor does God’s story end with the death of Jesus. There is always hope because Christ is the resurrected Lord.
Thank you, loving Savior, for the hope I find in you. Even in the dark nights of the soul, your light of life comforts and restores me. Amen.
David’s family was a mess. Among his children there was rape, murder, and a plot to overthrow him by his son Absalom. Violence followed, and Second Samuel tells the story of Absalom’s death. Even though Absalom had betrayed him, David still loved his son with a parent’s never-ending love—the kind of love that God demonstrates perfectly for us, as David celebrates in Psalm 34. The author of Ephesians warns against acting out of anger, wrath, and malice (the very things that tore apart David’s family). We should instead forgive, as God in Christ has forgiven us. In John, Jesus restates that he is the path to God because he teaches God’s truth. Jesus will give his own life, then raise up those who believe in him.
Read 2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33. What helps you to “deal gently” with others? What makes it challenging at times?
Read Psalm 34:1-8. When have you been able to “taste and see” God’s goodness?
Read Ephesians 4:25–5:2. How do your words and actions reflect what you profess to believe about Christ?
Read John 6:35, 41-51. God comes to us in unexpected ways. Is there someone you have overlooked or dismissed as a servant of God? How can you work to see people as God sees them?
Respond by posting a prayer.
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.