Groaning and Gladness


Saints, advent is a season of groaning and gladness — gladness that Christ has come and groaning for Christ to come again. Advent is an in-between-time when we wait with desire for the Second coming, as we remember with delight the First. Christ has come; Christ will come again. 

Look at Isaiah 9, which perfectly captures both what we wait for and what we remember:

The people who walked in darkness

    have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

    on them has light shone.

You have multiplied the nation;

    you have increased its joy;

they rejoice before you

    as with joy at the harvest,

    as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

For to us a child is born,

    to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

    and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace

    there will be no end,

on the throne of David and over his kingdom,

    to establish it and to uphold it

with justice and with righteousness

    from this time forth and forevermore.

The zeal of YHWH of hosts will do this.

One day, we will see the child who was born, and our gladness will be full. We will bask in the full light of the Morning Star. But until that day, like the saints of old, we wait with groaning for the Dawn. In a land of deep darkness — we long for the Light. 

I’d like to read two sonnets that capture and cultivate this longing for the Light, this desire for Dawn, this yearning to marvel at the coming of Christ. The first sonnet is called ‘Dawn-flood,’ and it presses into the groaning. The second sonnet is called ‘Sonrise,’ and it celebrates the gladness.



The morning-longing haunts the sons of dark,
Who sit in groaning grey. Heart-land long lay
In shadows thick as winter ice, but sparks
Point; Ghostly gleams of Light foreshadow day.
On we wait, wait and wait, with dusk-dimm’d eyes
But hoping hearts. When ends night? When comes dawn?
For ages, advent lingers. Gloaming skies
Long reign. . . but look! Who crowns the horizon?

At last, Day springs! Shadows shatter. The Son
At morn is born. His breaking breaks the night,
Fills bush and babe with holy fire, and runs.
Look, friend, even now lighting you is Light.
With wings of morning rain, oh come Dayspring!
Bright Dawn-flood, rise and shine on everything. 


All come and see my crownless King, now crowned
with holy head, thin hair set with hay. Naught
his small hands hold though all in them is found.
The Word wordless though all worlds his word wrought.

See heaven’s doors thrown open wide, the Sun
So fair, delight of long longing, now is born
A babe beneath swift star-rise. Angels run
to hail him, but the Dark fast flees his scorn.

For the new child, ancient Son, comes to wreck
All wrong, to rend old polar night in two,
To kill by rising death, sin’s dim reign check,
Beget bright sons from Fall. All Dawn makes new.

See, glory flying free, the morning Light.
Behold the sun as Sonrise torches Night.


Pray with me. King Jesus, you are our exceeding joy, and our hearts long for more of you. You have come and you will come again. We marvel at the First even as we yearn for the Second. By your Spirit, help us to feel in our bones both the gladness of this season and the groaning so that you are magnified in our holy affections. For the glory of your triune Name and for our delight in you, we say, ‘Even so, come Lord Jesus!’ Amen. 

Clinton Manley
4th-Year Seminarian


Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray that God would supply the full funding of this year’s Serious Joy Scholarships.
  2. Pray for a restful and joyful Christmas break for our students and faculty.
  3. Pray for Serious Joy: The Bethlehem Conference for Pastors at the end of January.