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Good Reason

Isn’t it true that some days it seems that every which way you turn, bad news awaits? Sometimes, the ripple effects of the Garden’s sin-splash enter our life’s spheres from every side . . . and the undertow seems enough to almost pull you under.

 

Yesterday was one of those days. Our little household is floating along life’s currents just fine for the moment, but it seems like just about everyone we know and love is struggling to keep their heads above water. Our hearts ache. You know that ache? The one where you pray hard, and throw out what little lifelines you can, but really, your hands are tied and only God can move and do the rescuing?

 

And even though it feels different and you feel helpless, nothing’s really changed from the good times to the bad. God is the same. We’re powerless in any sense of control all the time, not just when it feels like it. I think it just hurts more when you’re stuck on the shoreline, watching others struggle for footing and lung-filling breath between life’s waves.

 

How do we come alongside others in their suffering? Do we shake our fists at God in His seeming unfairness? Do we ignore their pain so that we are not brought down low as well?

 

I think on words, spoken by others who have struggled for that air and found it:

 

I know there is poor and hideous suffering, and I’ve seen the hungry and the guns that go to war. I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks . . . [for] all the good things that a good God gives. Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? The clouds open when we mouth thanks.

~~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

 

 

Maybe when others are struggling for air, we breathe deep, and look for the joy – the beauty – that a good God is sure to bring. Look for the Rescuer. Pray for the Rescuer. Maybe thenwe motion hope from the shoreline.

 

And I think on words from our Pastor and I can’t quote, but the idea has been a healing balm . . .

 

As Christians in this world, we are never fully content because we were not made for this world. We were not made for the heartache, the death, the disease, the waiting. We were made for another world.

But, neither our we ever completely without joy because we have hope in a God who is making all things right. We have hope in what is to come. We are never fully content, but neither are we ever completely without hope and joy.

~~Joe Novenson, paraphrase (and probably a bad one)

 

 

The in-between. The here and now.

 

Today I am singing a song that, I think, captured this idea.

 

 

we were pressed on every side
full of fear and troubled thoughts
for good reason we carried heavy hearts

it is good to come together
in our friendship to remember
all the reasons hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

now with patience in our suffering
perseverance in our prayers
with good reason this hope is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

oh we saw the face of Angels
many good things well secured
for good reason this joy is in our hearts

hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength
hallelujah hallelujah
Christ our joy and strength

for good reason joy is in our hearts

~~ Sara Groves, from Fireflies and Songs

 

So, we are pressed. But there is good reason.

 

Joy.

Hope.

Christ.

 

Wake up!

I am drowning in my own laziness here. The house needs scrubbed and I have a first birthday party this weekend to shop and cook for, but I’m much more easily satiated in blogging, surfing, piddling around the house and shopping for Christmas. I think it’s my own form of soap operas and bon-bons. Not a pretty picture.

 

Why is a virtual world so much more  alluring than our real-life, honest-to-goodness homes and families? Or maybe I’m the only one who struggles with this?

 

The preacher on Sunday said something to this effect, although, not word for word:

 

“Idols never fulfill or give us all we need or want, but they do put our souls to sleep. We go back again and again to   hush up all we’re suppressing.”

 

Powerful words to this slumbering soul.  My children and my home need me and the alarm clock is sounding.

Hush

Plop on comfy, red, oversized chair in corner of living room. Mug of second cup of coffee (I am being sooooo bad this holiday weekend!). Girls down for naps, although I hear my oldest, the one I’ll call Firefly, I hear her voice giving the walls a voice. “ABC’s” and her little talkings to herself as she imagines much these days. I think the wee one is dreaming now after a long wrestling against sleep.

 

The tree is up. Not quite finished yet, but it’s standing straight with garlands and ornaments gracing its boughs. The star is glittering at the top . . . a little wobbly and lop-sided, but holding on so far. Other than the almost-finished tree, I am surrounded by Christmas chaos.  There are boxes and tissue paper and those little packing peanuts and stockings and pine needles everywhere as Firefly was so intensely excited and “helped” unpack the cold, attic boxes (Oh, but I’m so glad she did!). In the midst of all the excitement of beautifying and decorating, the rest of the house has been completely neglected. How does it fall apart so fast?! There is laundry piled high, I’m not sure that I made my bed, and I can feel the suffocating threat of the stress of Christmas rising up my torso, approaching my throat. What am I doing, sitting here in this big, comfy corner while the chaos is encroaching on every other nook and cranny of my house and heart?

 

I am taking a breath. I am refocusing.

 

Because in a grace-filled moment, I realized that if I don’t stop now, the sales, gift wrapping, parties, cooking, sweets, dazzling lights, and frenzied mall traffic will drown out the stillness and peace of all we’re attempting to celebrate.

 

Peace.

 

Joy.

 

Cleansing.

 

Life.

 

A child king.

 

Don’t leave us to our distracted, frenetic selves this Christmas season.

 

Come, oh come, our Emmanuel. Fill us full.