Let me just say, I had an entirely different post planned for today. Something about how Facebook breeds passive aggressiveness. And while I still believe that (and plan to write about it soon), my heart is heavy.
Last night my church celebrated Advent with the Hanging of the Greens ceremony. I was reminded that Christ's coming is the reason we celebrate Christmas and not the superficial reasons the world wants us to cling to. Joy filled our sanctuary as candles were lit and the congregation sang Silent Night. Smiles were on our hearts as we went home.
Today, I was reminded that life is painful. But when pain comes around the holidays it's magnified.
A young man who goes to the church across the street from me is dying. In fact, last Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving) he was given two days to live (He's still kicking, as of right now). He's 31, has a 12 year-old daughter, is newly engaged and has aggressive adrenal cancer.
What do you do with that?
A little girl who volunteered at the youth camp my children attend had a gall stone the size of a baseball removed along with several other stones. She is in serious condition in a hospital two and a half hours away. Her mom is not with her. The "mother's" words were apparently, "I signed the papers, THEY'LL take care of her." She's scared and alone at Christmas.
What do you do with that?
I am at a loss as to why these things happen. They happen all the time, but in the middle of July it's a little easier to stomach. Christmastime should equal joy, not aching sadness and loss.
I texted a friend to ask her to pray for the girl I mentioned. My friend had been the one to bring the young man to my attention, so I guess we were doing a prayer request swap. My heart is torn in two over these (and many other situations) but her reply gave me a glimmer of hope.
She said, "Just keep remembering how good God is."
Yes, how easily I forget that.
I am ashamed to admit the times I've prayed for someone or something and I realize I'm talking AT God rather than talking TO him. I don't take the time to remember WHO I'm supposed to be praying to.
He is good. And he is faithful.
Does that mean this man will be miraculously healed?
Does this mean this girl will get the family she deserves?
Not saying those things can't happen, but God doesn't always give us what we want. Rather, he gives us what's best for his plan.
I do know that God will be in that hospital room. He'll be at that hospice bedside. His Spirit will permeate hearts so solid a sledgehammer couldn't get through.
He is good and his goodness shines through during Advent.
Advent is derived from the Latin word "adventus" which means "coming." So during this season we're to wait with excited anticipation the coming of Christ. The Bible said that God loved the world so much that he sent Jesus. (John 3:16) He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice we could never give on our own.
If that ain't good, I don't know what is. Would you give up your son for another's transgression? Not me, brother! But God did. Because of love; because of goodness.
Come Jesus, come. Come into our hearts this holiday season. You are knocking, may we open the door and never forget the magnitude of your goodness.