ex ni·hi·lo /ˈeks ˈnē(h)əlō,ˈnī(h)əlō/
adverb: out of nothing (Latin)
This Advent season I’ve been especially struck by the fact that Jesus, our Messiah, basically came to us out of nothing–ex nihilo. He was born from the womb of a virgin. Impossible!
There was emptiness there. Only an egg—no sperm. That’s NOT how babies are made.
Isn’t that like God? Over and over again throughout history, He has delighted in coming to us and making Himself known through emptiness, barrenness, and impossibility, creating ex nihilo. Here are some examples of ways He has brought something out of nothing:
The creation of the heavens and the earth out of what was dark, void, and without form (Genesis 1)
Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River—both times on dry land where there should have been nothing but water (Exodus 14, Joshua 3)
The provision of manna, the food of angels, for forty years in the wilderness; it just appeared out of nowhere like the dew (Exodus 16)
Gideon’s unbelievable victory over the host of Midian—an army “like locusts in abundance”—with only 300 soldiers bearing trumpets, torches, and empty jars: no weapons whatsoever (Judges 7)
Similar to Gideon, King Jehoshaphat’s incredible victory over the “great multitude” of Moabites and Ammonites without a single weapon–only fasting, standing firm, watching, and singing songs of praise (2Chronicles 20)
God’s determination to use the weak and foolish, the lowly and despised (1Corinthians 1)
The birth of people like Isaac, Samuel, and John the Baptist—all from empty, barren wombs (Genesis 21, 1Samuel 1, Luke 1)
The flesh that covered the dry bones and the breath that came into those rattling skeletons—life emerging where there was nothing but death (Ezekiel 37)
The unbelievable way the lions’ mouths were shut throughout the entire night that Daniel spent with them: his life was preserved when there seemed to be no hope (Daniel 6)
The formation of ridiculous things like streams in the desert and highways in the wilderness (Isaiah 35 and 43)
Provision for two destitute widows who saw flour and oil continue to pour out of vessels that contained next to nothing (1Kings 17 and 2Kings 4)
Tax payments that came from the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17)
Every miracle performed by Jesus and his disciples: sight and hearing where there was none, health out of sickness, robust limbs from what was lame, life springing forth out of death, strength from weakness, well-muscled hands out of what was withered and useless, and soundness of mind out of demonic madness, to name a few (the Gospels and Acts).
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Papa God loves to bring something out of nothing. Every place where there is lack, weakness, emptiness, impossibility, sickness, hopelessness, or barrenness is a place where His propensity for creating ex nihilo can shine.
So in this Advent season of waiting, in every place of our lives where there is emptiness or lack, barrenness or impossibility, may we find comfort and joy as we fix our hearts on the One who specializes in bringing something out of nothing.
~ Kathryn Kircher, writer
~ Deana Harvey, painter