On the first Sunday of Advent in 2008, we received a call that my father had finally lost his battle with alcoholism. The next week or so, as we drove back and forth to North Carolina to make funeral arrangements, I struggled with a swirl of emotions: grief, loss, and sadness mixed with anger and regret. Here I was in the midst of this fresh loss right smack in the middle of the Christmas season and everything felt raw.
Christmas was hard that year.
That year, I found particular comfort in the familiar words from Isaiah 9 we read and sing so often during the Christmas season. That year, I clung to these words like never before.
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9: 2, 6
While professional counselors can be an important part of our support system during difficult times in our life, this version of the word “counselor” means much more. In this context, the word counselor would be better translated as “extraordinary strategist,” more like someone with the capacity for planning a winning military strategy than a therapist.
Jesus is a “strategist” that is more wonderful than we can comprehend or understand because he sees the big picture that I cannot. Those times in my life when I don’t know where to turn, when I am confused, troubled or looking for answers, I can experience Jesus as my wonderful counselor. As I seek his wisdom, the answer may come as that still small voice in my spirit, in the wise words of a friend, in the discovery of the perfect scripture, or perhaps just enough strength to endure a situation where the answer is still unknown to me. With that gift of wisdom or insight, comes the incomprehensible realization that I am never alone.
There are times in our lives when our circumstances are just too big, too scary, too overwhelming to face. Continue reading