Saturday, December 6, 2014

(Un)Happy Holidays

It's the holidays! Time for friends and food and family and fun, right? For traditions and memories and warmth and love, too?

Well, yes and no. 

In the last week, people close to me have experienced job loss, illness, uncertainty, disappointment, death, and injustice. It's enough to question the very existence of God. For some, this "most wonderful time of the year" doesn't feel so wonderful. This advent season of joyful anticipation and light is often as cold and dark as the weather outside for those dealing with difficult circumstances.  

When faithful people go through tough times, they often use Christian mantras like "God doesn't give us more than we can handle" or "It's all part of God's plan". These phrases indicate a hopefulness and faithfulness at their core, and in the past I have used them to comfort myself, friends, and family. But I try not to use them anymore.

Here's why: I don't think God causes bad things to happen. Bad things happen because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. We do not treat others as we wish to be treated. We are selfish and willful. That's not God, that's us.

God is not up in the clouds throwing thunderbolts to Earth to teach us lessons or punish our wickedness. That's not Immanuel, the God with Us, that we are promised by Isaiah.  


Image from incourage.me

I do believe God is with us. In the hurt. In the uncertainty. In the loss. He is there. Like a good friend or parent, He is there. And He often uses our sad situations for His good, in His time. But not because we have passed some kind of test or prayed hard enough.  

So what can we do for those who are hurting during the holidays? The same things we should do for our people the rest of the year: show them love. Maybe that means bringing over a plate of cookies. Send a card. Call. Invite them to dinner. Have a cup of coffee together. Just listen. Say a prayer.  

If you are hurting right now, I hope you feel the warmth and light of the season very soon. And if you know someone who is hurting, be that warmth and light. 

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