It’s a very hard time of year for many people.
Those who hurt — emotionally, physically, spiritually, psychologically, economically — so many ways to describe hurting.
When all the commercials and Christmas specials show an idyllic setting for the coming celebration, and yet, you know yours won’t look anything like that.
It hurts. A lot.
I know the difference now. For many years we had the ideal Christmas.
Little ones gathered around a fire.
All dressed in Christmas colors — special outfits for the day.
Ham and turkey, with all the sides, set among an artistic tablescape.
Hand-made name cards…special chocolates set beside.
Loads of desserts with hot spiced cider and endless cups of coffee.
Sitting around singing carols and sharing the Christmas story.
Some years we had a talent show…each of us having prepared beforehand…a poem, a song, a picture, a skit. Something to share with the family. Grandparents and great-grandparents. The newest baby being passed around while the older kids played outside (it’s Texas, we can do that on Christmas day 😛 ). A whole day full of family…togetherness…and great conversation. No subject left untouched. It seemed we had no problems sharing our lives…back then.
But, like I said, I now know the difference.
When tragedy hit our lives, the family seemed to split apart.
Our world was rocked to its core, and as much as we tried to hold it together… pernicious things began to sneak in among us. Maybe it was all a facade before…?
We thought we were being watchful. We hoped we were caring for one another. But, in doing so, we hurt each other even more.
So now. It’s not as it was.
I’ve learned that some people have never experienced the ideal. Their lives have always been a bit less than the Christmas cards portray. I can rejoice that for many years we had it good. And, now that it’s not as lovely, I understand better others’ pain…and actually, I kinda think that’s good.
I heard a song the other day (can’t remember the name) about how Jesus should have been born in a palace, being the King and all. And how curious that God placed Himself in a stable…among His creation…and shepherds — stinky, dirty, the lowest on the Jewish social system — came to worship. But then the point was made: Where else should the Lamb of God be born?
Not the ideal.
But perfect, nonetheless.
He sees things we don’t see.
He knows why we are where we are.
He has a plan He promises to complete.
In the frustration and hurt this year, I’m choosing to accept hardship as a pathway to peace. I do know the Prince of Peace, the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God who was born in a dirty, lowly stable…as a lamb should be.
And He makes all the difference.