The Gift no one wants for Christmas
This entry is moved from 12/4/10 blogspot site
Welcome to my first blog on this site as I make the move from Caring Bridge; I am not sure how I feel about this, but we will try it for a while. It may morph into something else. We shall see!
It is the Christmas season and so many think of gifts, both the ones they want to give and the ones they hope to receive. In fact, my kids asked me the other day what I wanted. That was it!I wanted them to ask what I wanted! Having gotten that, now I am all set and can enjoy the season having already received exactly what I wanted. Actually this year I have already received a gift. It is the gift no one wants. Especially not at Christmas. I received the gift of sorrow. And I am not quite sure how to unwrap it. I am also not sure what to do with it. It is sort of like one of those gifts you open in front of the relatives that they made for you and you have to act happy to get it but you think it is ugly or you aren’t really sure what to do with it! That is sort of how I feel and yet I know that it has been entrusted to me. It is valuable but I really don’t want to decorate with it or let it take up residence. When grief leaves I want the benediction to be joy and peace, a blessing to cherish.
I’ve never had to convince anyone that joy is good, but sorrow is a tougher sell. We confuse the favor of God with the benefits of living in a blessed country during an era of relative prosperity. However, the words of Jesus himself in John 16:33, “In this world you will have trouble,” defy the idea of a picture-perfect existence. The Bible doesn’t run from sorrow, but rather encourages us to see it as a blessing or a gift. There are several benefits of opening this gift.
Sorrow connects us to the comfort of God’s presence. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’s most extensive monologue and is the best foundation we have on which to build a theology about the blessing and favor of God. In it, he mentions eight specific “blessings,” including poverty, hunger, and persecution. One has grown near and dear to my heart: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be invited to come near. God’s beautiful, intimate presence is the blessing in our sorrow. When we are suffering, he comes near. He calls us near. He draws us out of our hurting and into his healing. It’s not just because we need to be with him, it’s also because he loves to be with us. Here’s another verse just to prove it: So the Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion. For the Lord is a faithful God. Blessed are those who wait for his help (Isaiah 30:18). The gift of sorrow is really a gift of God’s unbroken companionship.
God is gracious to us at the sound of our weeping. He uses adversity and affliction to draw us to himself and to reveal himself to us in ways we have not seen before. God’s comforting presence is an extravagant reward, one that we can undervalue until we are overwhelmed by sorrow.
God is near to the brokenhearted, and I have the blessing of allowing sorrow to usher me right into the presence of Jesus.
Sorrow connects us to the heart of Jesus for His world. “Jesus wept” (John 11:35) Jesus wept because his friends wept. He felt what they felt. He felt the sting of sorrow because he loved them. I often think of this one startling idea: Jesus weeps with me. The one who created the concept of emotion does not live in a state of anesthetized indifference. He hurts for the hurting.
Jesus feels deeply for us. He feels sadness with us and for us. Sorrow led him to lay his life down for us. When we experience sorrow, it helps us understand his heart for the world that lies trapped beneath the sway of the heartache of sin. When we taste sorrow’s tears, we become more like Jesus by learning to share in his suffering. If we’ll let it, sorrow can keep our hearts connected to his heart of compassion for our world.
Sorrow connects us to the hearts of those who suffer. It helps others to know I’ve been there and can weep with those who weep. The sorrow I have experienced provides a unique way for the joy of walking in my calling. I am learning to not be surprised by sorrow. I hope that the inevitable result will be a whole new level of joy. God is brilliant at using all of my life including sorrow to create a perfect work. That is a gift.