Strengthening Our Generosity After a Rough Year

By Joel Leakey | 20 December 2016 | Comments (1)

Strengthening our Generosity after a rough year - a blog by Joel Leakey

Some years, the kingdom of God feels far off.

 

For many of us, 2016 has been a discouraging takedown of the idea that we live in a generous society—one that looks out for the needy, one that prefers the 'least of these'. Racism and waves of anti-refugee sentiment, spread by popular newspapers, have shown up in mainstream politics and in our own communities. Many around us seem closed off, and the generous kingdom of God seems one step further removed. And yet Advent is a chance to remember: when the kingdom seems furthest away, God is always far closer than we think.

 

We see it all through Scripture. In chaotic, lonely situations, God's people wait on Him and find His generosity much closer than you'd expect.

 

King David finds himself abandoned and mistrusted by the people of his country, when he discovers a town razed and his family missing. In this appalling situation, he doesn't sit in discouragement. He doubles down on his relationship with God and strengthens himself in God's generosity. Then he sets out to recover his family from the enemy. Coming back from victory, he demonstrates impossible kindness: he finds room to share the spoils with his antagonistic, doubting countrymen (when it was within cultural expectations to just have their heads lopped off...). Everything in his reality told him to be discouraged but he found fresh generosity at exactly that point.

 

Paul finds himself with old allies deserting him and enemies opposing what he stands for. When he's falsely accused, none of his friends stand by him. But he too takes on the same spirit of generosity. Strengthened in the Lord, knowing God stands by him, he prays, 'May it not be charged against them!' for exactly the people who are out to knock him down. Gritting his teeth through real frustration, he still fuels his life with generosity, not pain

 

Jesus, betrayed and hanging on a cross, calls out, 'Father forgive them, for they know not what they do'. He turns enemies into recipients of heartfelt generosity. This is a mark of the character of God: strong enough in his self-possessed security, he can pour compassion towards those performing the ultimate injustice on him, even while he's been deserted by all his friends.

 

And then there's the first Advent: a tyrannical ruler targeting Hebrew children for slaughter; Roman occupation leading the Jews to revolt and die, over and over; Mary and Joseph wandering the country looking for refuge. Yet in that apocalyptic first Advent we see God's most generous expression of love barrelling in—Generosity without measure entering the human story. God's hope breaking through when things are beyond bearing.

 

Against the backdrop of the whole Bible, the Advent story is emphatic: at the most hopeless moment, our generous God is near.

 

So, strengthened in God, will you be generous even when everything and everyone seems turned against you?

 

Strengthened in God, will you go ahead with His will even when the only things to fall back on are His promises?

 

Advent is a time of waiting and trusting for our God to come through. It has a way of shaking free our trust in God—or our lack of trust. For many of us, this year's Advent, more than most, is a chance to lean into that.

 

The act of strengthening yourself in the Lord is to decide in your heart to draw closer to God when people and events are wearing you down. This isn't therapeutic stuff: this is hard. To know our generous God is near when His kingdom seems far off. That's tricky. To then practice his generosity in the face of absence seems unlikely. But God is calling us to do it in His strength: to continue to open our tables to the marginalised, to make our lives beacons of generosity, to care for the least of these and want the best for our antagonisers. In the face of changeability, your life can remain rooted in who God is and continue to overflow in generosity and hope.


 

Read more like this:

Christmas messes with my money-mind

How to be generous with your time

 

Posted by Joel Leakey

Joel Leakey is a freelance writer based out of Northern Ireland. You can follow him on Twitter at @joelleakey, but he warns you it's mostly puns.

comments:

Ros

December 24, 2016 10:09 PM
Thank you for sharing your words of hope which I will take into 2017. Your last paragraph echoes so many of the lessons God has been teaching me this last year. I trust others find it so too!

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