Wednesday, December 17, 2008
This Is Christmas
I sometimes think the words are no sooner spoken before the question comes, "Do you really believe that?" I have been thinking, writing and speaking about the way the peace and quiet joy of Christmas have filled my heart this year. I have had the time to quietly reflect, to read Advent devotionals, to listen to the glorious music.
Then came the "news":
- My Uncle had passed away. It was not unexpected, but he was my Dad's last remaining sibling. Five brothers and a sister all gone.
- My Aunt is losing her long battle with cancer. She is under hospice care, and three generations wait at her bedside.
I was still doing well until the final bit of news yesterday:
- Our son with M.S. was having i.v. steroid treatments again - another flare-up that blurred his vision and left him weak.
Then the tears flowed, and I felt the peace and joy begin to seep out of my heart as fear and sadness pushed their way in. Where had Christmas gone? I struggled yesterday fighting those doubts that fight for preemince over faith. I knelt by my bedside and prayed - the same prayers I've prayed for so long. Prayed with a sense of hopelessness for suffering to cease. Like a little child, I longed for Christmas to return to my heart.
This morning I felt a gentle breath whisper into my spirit - "This is Christmas too. This is why He came. He came to bring hope in the midst of dispair, joy in the face of suffering, peace when all around is chaos."
Yes. I opened my heart to the One who came and experienced everything I will ever have to face in this life. I felt that tiny spark of faith take hold. I remembered the words Jesus spoke at the very beginnng of His ministry:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come."
This is Christmas. He came to give us the gift of eternal life; to give us all that we would need to walk through this earthly life; to take up residence in the hearts of all who would invite Him in. Emmanuel - God with us. This is joy and peace.