On a lunch date with my husband last week, I was startled by bits of a conversation I overheard between two middle-aged women sitting nearby.
“I hate this time of year”, one blurted. “I have good reasons for it too…”
If she went on to detail those reasons, I didn’t catch them, but I do remember being shocked at the bitterness in her tone as I heard her saying through gritted teeth, “I just have to get through it.”
My reaction to that, in part is, I get it. Holidays are suppose to be times of laughter and cheer; time spent with loved ones; a season of giving; goodwill and peace, etc…
But what if life has pitched you a curve-ball recently, and you are gripped with sorrow? What if your loved ones haven’t been so lovely? Or what if circumstance has kept you from being together, or worse, they are gone by an act of their own will… or God’s, because they are now with Him? Or how about those whose finances are in upheaval leaving them unable to provide for their families, let alone to give the gifts they feel compelled to? In fact the only “Goodwill” they may be experiencing this holiday season is the store itself.
The truth is, none of these are “what if’s” for me. I’ve either been there or am there on each point mentioned. That’s why I empathize with what that woman was saying to a certain extent. What I don’t know are the details of the circumstances that are making her so bitter, nor is she acquainted with mine. I don’t have to know the intricacies of her struggles, or yours, and you don’t have to understand my own for us all to agree however, that pain is gripping and stress is for real.
But there is a difference between that poor woman’s viewpoint and my own – a hinge that makes all the difference in the world. It’s a small word, but it carries so much weight -literally. In fact, if you have enough of this little word of which I speak, it will remove that hefty burden from your shoulders, along with the knots that go with it. So enough already, right? What’s the word?
So simple. Are you disappointed? Where you thinking I was going to reveal something more mysterious, deep, or profound? I for one am glad it’s not complicated. I like simple. So does Jesus. In fact he told us that all we have to do to inherit the Kingdom of God was to have simple faith in Him like that of children. – Little children. You know… like kindergarten or maybe even preschoolers. The age where when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up, you still get answers like: “I’m going to be an astronaut… or a ballerina… or president… because no one has filled their heads with doubts yet.
The great thing about having that simple faith in our Savior is that it’s companion is hope. Not the kind of hope that you must manufacture within because you are determined to never say die. This hope I refer to is a warm, enduring flame that burns within the soul of the person who places their confidence in the One whose ways are higher than ours – So that when calamity strikes, and we find ourselves in upheaval, or when disappointments or grief overwhelm our senses, we don’t grope around or swing our angry fits in the dark, because the flame burns so brightly. It beckons us to come closer, stay warm, and stare at it’s beauty, knowing that the One that precious hope is founded on is in control of our circumstances, while our soul finds rest in His peace.
Oh yes, peace. The kind we celebrate at Christmas. Not the kind of peace that is limited to our finite, human understanding, but rather the peace that envelopes our hearts with an assurance that is indeed so blessed.
And there you have it: The reason why I will always love and celebrate this season, no matter what kind of emotion may be merited from circumstances past, present, or future. My soul will always have reason to break forth into joy. The little babe whose birth we celebrate grew into a man who was despised and rejected by His own creation. We mocked Him, scourged Him, spit on Him, and hung Him on a tree. He willingly bore the weight of my sin and shame; your’s too if you’ve given it to Him. But death had no grip on Him. He conquered it. Thus giving us hope for the future, and peace in all circumstance, because He lives. And that friends, is cause for great and joyous celebration!
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13 (NIV)
And now I hope (ok…yes, pun intended.) you can get past my piano banging while I get past the goofy face I’m making in the video below, and be blessed with the message in this very rough version of my latest song called
(p.s. I welcome your feedback and Merry Christmas!)