Good News & Bad News: The Tension of Advent

A few weeks ago I woke to Finnden, our 3-year-old, sitting at the foot of our bed at 6:30 in the morning. I didn't know how long he'd been there. With bleary eyes I looked at him, and he returned my look under furrowed brows. Suddenly, he announced, “I have good news, and I have bad news.”

Thinking it too early for bad news, I said, “Okay. What's the good news?”

“The good news is that I found my Crack In the Track book.” The Crack In the Track is his favorite Thomas the Train book. It had been MIA for about a week.

“Okay then,” I said. And, bracing myself, I asked, “So what's the bad news?”

With a deep sigh, he answered, “I also found my caterpillar book.” The Very Hungry Caterpillar is another favorite of his.

“And that's bad news?” I asked.

“No. That's good news.”

“Oh, okay. Then what's the bad news?”

And quite matter-of-factly, he answered, “There is no bad news, only good news.”

I laughed, and he simply smiled back at me. There's only good news. In Finnden's world there is only good news.

But the fact of the matter—as he will all too soon discover—is that there is bad news. In our world there is all kinds of bad news, and that fact has become all the more apparent in recent days and weeks.

Each morning I spend a little time reading the news, and lately I've found myself struggling to read those words through the blur of tears.

On those days, as my heart grows heavy with the weight of brokenness playing out all around me, I find myself leaning back in my chair, lifting my face to the sky, and asking God to remind me that he is in charge. And in his grace he does remind me. He reminds me that his kingdom has come but his perfect will is yet to be fully done. We live in the in-between, and there we find ourselves restless and discontent. As we should. This longing is what the Advent season has brought into focus for me.

We celebrate Christmas because Jesus has come, and we should also celebrate the day after Christmas and the day after that because he's coming again. On that day he will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Jesus had good reasons for telling us that we need to become like children. In one sense my little boy may be living in a dream world, a world of naiveté and fantasy from which he will one day be shaken. But in another sense, he is already living in the world to come, in the mindset that things are as they were mean to be. That morning, as he shared his good news I got a little peek, a tiny window into the world we have all been promised.

Because every single day we are marching closer, drawing a little nearer to the fullness of God's promises. And that's good news. It's good news because we're promised that in the end the children of God will each be able to see with the eyes of my son and say, “There is no bad news, only good news.”