I think it was C. S. Lewis who said, “It’s better to limp along the right road than to race along the wrong road.”
Jesus said, “Blessed (happy, favoured, fortunate) are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4.
I remind any and all of the people with whom I work that there is not a single pew in our congregation that is not filled with those who are struggling. A marriage has or is ending. A child is making self-destructive choices. A loved one has died. An addiction is reaching the point where it can’t be hidden any more. There are many, many reasons to mourn. Life is filled to the brim with opportunities to grieve, to mourn and to be comforted.
When our child died, for two weeks we were hardly ever alone. From about an hour after breakfast to about an hour before we turned in for the night, we were in the presence of friends. To this day, I don’t know if it was organised. It must have been, for as one friend got up to leave, another would appear. It wasn’t intrusive. Many times we went on with what needed to be done while they were simply there; talking to the other kids or reading a magazine at the kitchen table. On a couple occasions we’d say good bye to a friend and as I walked past the kitchen window, another friend was sitting down on the deck with a book. If I hadn’t greeted them, I suspect that not a word would have been said. They were just - there. For two weeks, comforters were present. It brings tears to my eyes right now just remembering the goodness and the mercy.
It is terribly difficult for those who have been led to believe that if only they would commit their lives to Jesus the Christ, all would go well in their lives.
Now, to be fair, much of the suffering that we experience comes from our own crappy choices. On the other hand, through no fault of our own, we get abandoned and ambushed by people and by life itself. Dreams turn to nightmares. What once seemed like answers now seem completely inadequate. Our pride turns to shame and embarrassment. Confidence turns to confusion and despair. Friendships have turned to hurtful gossip. Smiles have turned to tears. Numb or angry, the God we trusted is using a means of changing us that seems entirely wrong. Afraid to try again. Afraid to trust. Afraid that there’s much more hardship to come. Afraid to hope and afraid to love.
Fortunate? Favoured? Happy? Mmm, not so much. And yet it IS good. God does - something - something. And the something that He does for those willing to observe leads to thoughts like this one from the apostle Paul, “Therefore I rejoice in my suffering, in my infirmities, in weakness and insults.”
This is one of the aspects of walking through life with our Creator that is most confusing. Richard Dawkins said that he is “bewildered” by Christians because suffering seems to make them stronger. The comfort of God in the midst of our mourning is a strange and wonderful thing. No matter the loss that you’ve experienced, the hurt that you encounter, the confusion and despair that seems to come in wave after wave, the love and mercy of our Lord and Saviour is greater than it all. My prayer is that you'll let Him love you this Christmas season and forever.
Happy Holy Days - and may the comfort of His presence allow for you to experience a Merry and Joyous Christmas.