I’ll be honest with you, I really believed that our Christmas this year would look much different than it’s going to. I thought it’d be a bit louder, more sleep deprived, and we’d have one more crazy Salmon mouth to feed. I thought that by this week, we’d be so deliriously thrilled with the newest addition to our family that no one would care about the messy house, additional noise, and little sleep. And come Christmas morning, we’d wake up and celebrate the birth of our Savior as a family of five. And yet, the month has flown by and still no baby.
What do we do with that?
What do we do with the Christmas pajamas we got for a baby because we just really honestly believed that he’d be here by now?
What do we do with that empty nursery that has turned into a storage room for our Christmas décor boxes?
What happens when Mr./Mrs. Right doesn’t show up? Or after months of trying, those lines on the pregnancy test don’t appear? Or in the adoption/foster care world, What happens when your placement is taking months or years longer than you initially thought? What about that job you thought you’d have by now? That book you thought you’d write? The ministry you thought you’d be leading?
What do we do when our greatest desires don’t match up with our reality?
This is the hard stuff of life.
This week of Christmas, I would be lying to you if I told you that I was valiantly walking this journey with my head high and eyes dry. I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t disappointed. I’d be lying to you if I told you I was handling this EXACTLY how a good Christian should (as if there is such a way).
But here’s what I know about our God. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He doesn’t expect his followers to walk hard paths in pretense, ignoring the pain. He doesn’t expect us to live with disappointment perfectly. Or just “suck it up” and “pull up our boot straps” and keep going.
Rather, our God sent His Son to live among us. To be both God and human. God with us, Emmanuel. And what exactly does that have to do with our suffering?
This God-child came to earth and He changed everything.
I love the story of Lazarus and how Jesus loved him and his sisters so. I love that even though Jesus could have arrived sooner to heal Lazarus, he didn’t. Sometimes when life gets difficult and I start telling God, “If you had been here, this wouldn’t/would have happened.” I remind myself of Mary and Martha and how they told Jesus, “If you’d had been here, my brother would not have died.” I love Jesus's response. He didn’t accuse them of blasphemy. He didn’t tell them how they should be feeling. He didn't tell them not to doubt Him. Rather, Jesus saw how deeply Mary hurt and Scripture clearly states, “He was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.” And so He wept. His affection for those He loved was displayed through tears. He wept.
That baby in the manger, grew up into a man who cared so deeply for the pains of His people. So much so that He wept for the ones he loved. So much so that He went onto raise Lazarus from the grave. So much so that He would willingly give up his very life so that every wrong will one day be righted.
And when I read verses like 1 Peter 5:7 that say “Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” I remember the way Jesus cared for Martha and I know He cares the same for me. And when I read Psalm 55:22 and am told to cast my every burden on the Lord for he will sustain us, I know that the Jesus who sustained Martha and Mary, will also be a sustainer for me.
And I know that He will also sustain you. This low point. Your dark hour. That disappointment. The waiting. He cares for you. He cares that it hurts. He cares SO much that He sent His son to live among us, Emmanuel.
So this week, what do we do when our desires don't match up with our reality?
First off, we do what Mary and Martha did. We run to Him. We are honest with our feelings and our fears and our disappointments and we bring them to Jesus. All of them: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Knowing that the Savior of the world is both BIG enough to right all wrongs and COMPASSIONATE enough to care for His people, even to the point of death. Will this fix your circumstance? No. But the journey will help you learn how to trust this compassionate Savior and glorify God during the difficult paths.
Second, we celebrate that baby in a manger. This Jesus we sing carols about isn’t some feel-good Christmas song that fixes our problems. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is loving. He is fierce. And He will one day come again and right all the wrongs. And for that reason, regardless of our circumstances, we celebrate and we sing with eyes fixed on our great and compassionate Savior.
Merry Christmas y'all!