I've been thinking for some time now about Christmas and what it means this year. You guys, this Christmas is equal parts heartache and wonder. Heartache and wonder. Opposing feelings, mingled together, filling my days.
I've been reading a lot, listening a lot, learning a lot. As I wrestle with pain and joy, I continue to hear a message...one singular phrase that resounds above all the other noise of the struggle--
GOD IS GOOD.
Sure, we've heard that before. You know it with your head. You might even believe it with your heart. Until you are faced with the deepest of depths, you just can not grasp it fully. I can't explain it, how I know, I just know. I feel it with every fiber in my being...He is good.
I read yesterday in my Advent devotional by Ann Voskamp:
"Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.
As the cold can move you deeper toward the fire, struggling can move you deeper toward God, who warms you with joy. Struggling can deepen joy.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms and though the Christmas tree aches a bit empty, even though there are no grapes on the vine and no struggle-free days, even though the olive crop fails, even though I fail, even though so much fails--
Even now I will be joyful in the God of my salvation."
Those words ring true in me. Even though I believe in the healing I have received, yet fear sneaks in because I see others dying of this same blasted disease; even though I watch other families rejoice at bringing home their adopted sons and daughters and my cradle sits empty, covered in dust; even though my heart aches and my head questions, I can still rejoice in the Lord.
He is come and He is coming! God sent his own Son to us...He knows the depth of my longing momma heart even more than I do!! He understands the thorn in my flesh (cancer) and seeks to be grace enough to make me strong.
I had to stay home from church this morning because one of my boys is sick. I actually enjoy doing this every once in a while because we watch Life Church online. I love it. It is such an experience for me to know that all over the world, literally, people are singing the same worship songs and listening to the same message--I feel so connected to the worldwide church!! So, this morning K and I sat on our couch with the tree all aglow and listened and praised and prayed.
The message was about 2 Corinthians 12. You probably know the text. Paul has a thorn in his flesh that causes his great distress--actually translated as torment. He says in verse 10, "I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." What?!? He delights in those things?? Paul must have been crazy!
Back up a few verses, however, and you'll read this: "(the Lord) said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'"
When we are weak and lowly, in our deepest of depths, his grace is enough! God is so good that he fills us up in the places we are most needy. In my fear, in my empty arms, in my longing heart, he is there. He doesn't take it away and give me a perfect easy life, He makes up the difference right where I am.
This Christmas, as I live in the tension between heartache and wonder, I am so filled full of His grace. I know that many of you struggle with your own stuff--we all have thorns of some sort, so I pray that you, too, would delight in your life, knowing that His grace is sufficient and that He loves to be made strong in our weaknesses.
Merry Christmas friends.