As the year is ending, and a new year begins, my life continues….and so does yours.
This past Christmas season has been a tough one for me, to say the least…for now.
While children were excited to make wish lists of things they wanted and needed, I was REMEMBERING my Nepali friends and how they are experiencing such tragedy amidst the fuel crisis, colder temperatures and continued struggles after the 7.4 earthquake in April and ongoing aftershocks since then.
While trees were being decorated and beautiful family pictures taken and posted on Facebook,
I was REMEMBERING the absence of family in our life, the death of my sister in July and the pain, loss and rejection that many close to me were also experiencing.
As Christmas Carols rang through our home, our van, the mall, and in worship services, not only was I struggling to embrace the JOY of this season but I was also needing to carry tissue everywhere I went. My tears were unpredictable. Between the continued muscle spasms and unexpected emotions of PTSD, the mustering up of a greeting of “Merry Christmas to you too” felt like a lot of work.
2015 was full of REMEMBERING the good, the bad, the disappointing, the frustrating, the sad and the painful – whether I wanted to or not. I know that God doesn’t want to waste the heaviness of this past year. He was and is doing a deep work in me through all of those experiences and I want to be a good steward of ALL of it. Even though God rescued me out of the April earthquake in Nepal with my life intact, the rest of the year still felt like I was in a valley – emotionally and physically. So when I hit the mountain-top experience of becoming a published author in July, it took every ounce of energy to appreciate the experience and CELEBRATE this milestone that God had brought me to.
On Christmas morning, while kids were easing into their day and getting excited to open their presents, I took a few minutes in my room and wept in relief that the day had arrived. I cried out to God confessing that I didn’t give the birth of Jesus the attention He deserved. I also had a deep desire to hear from God about what He wanted to show me as I carried this heaviness. But to be honest, I was weary and spent.
I don’t know about you, but even though I am a published author, I sometimes also have a hard time putting words to some of my feelings or experiences. But as I sat in my room, the Holy Spirit gave me the phrase, “when Christmas feels like Good Friday”. It cut to the heart and yet at the same time, was somewhat soothing, just like His healing balm. He saw me and heard my cry and my anguish and responded to my need. Good Friday is the day we reflect on Jesus death on the cross for our sin. It’s the time when we acknowledge the loss, pain, and the rejection that He experienced – for us. He was pierced for our transgressions (sin) and He died in our place. Good Friday is a very sobering time for a believer. Christmas, on the other hand, is often described as a time of new life, excitement, anticipation, and joy.
I began to wonder if all those emotions could exist together.
The Holy Spirit assured me that they could. You see, we can’t appreciate the real meaning of Christmas if we don’t look at it through the experience of the Cross. Jesus was given to us as a gift (Christmas) so He could die for us (Good Friday). Each is a gift that is CELEBRATED.
Then it happened…..the wisdom of God poured out from my husband, Ken (Surprise!)
He pointed me to Matthew 2:1-12 where death and suffering rested as a backdrop to the birth of Jesus. In this passage we discover that Herod felt threatened by this child and had an agenda against baby Jesus because he was to come as a king. The Christmas story isn’t just about the incredible birth of a Saviour but also includes a conspiracy to steal, kill and destroy. For Jesus, the culprit was Herod. In our lives today, it’s Satan. He is the Father of lies and seeks to deceive us and then sets out to steal, kill and destroy what God is doing in our lives. (John 10:10)
Why is this significant for my story? Well, because for me, 2015 was riddled with a combination of spiritual, emotional and physical births and deaths. With each of those experiences, I felt like the enemy was attacking me from all sides. I found great comfort from the Matthew 2 passage and great Hope that God was doing a new thing in me (Isaiah 43:19).
Sometimes in order to CELEBRATE, we need to REMEMBER.
Today, as we have crossed over the threshold into 2016…
I am REMEMBERING and CELEBRATING…God’s Goodness, Faithfulness, Presence, Power, Protection, Healing, Strength, Patience, Understanding, Deliverance, Blessings, Forgiveness, Peace, Timing, Direction, Provision and Restoration in my soul in 2015!!!
I may not know what this year holds, but I do know that God knows and holds ALL of it in His Trustworthy Hands!!!
A belated Merry Christmas to YOU from my heart. May 2016 be filled with all the things and people God wants for YOU!!
Thank you for joining me on my journey in 2015. If you choose to stay a faithful reader in this new year, I hope to hear from you as to what God is doing in your story.