Hard Seasons Are Hard
No matter how good you think your relationship with God is, no matter how much you read your Bible, or attend your small group, or pray for all of your family member’s needs…when life hits you with a trial, it’s going to hurt.
That’s what Autumn 2017 is marked by for me – and the hurt is spilling over into the Christmas season too. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, but this December, I have felt numb to it’s magic.
I haven’t put up any decorations, I haven’t done my characteristic baking. I eat, sleep, go to work, and volunteer with high school students…annnnd that’s about it. Day in, day out, feeling a little like I’m just biding time until this hard time comes to an end.
I sat down at the piano one quiet Saturday morning last week. After not playing for several months, my soul is pulling me towards the white and black keys and I can feel Holy Spirit asking me to give a little of myself to Him.
Oh, holy night, the stars are brightly shining…
I found a good key and sang softly along.
The King of kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials, born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend…
And I can’t sing anymore because my throat has closed up and my pain is falling as tears. He knows my need. He sees this pain and He is here in it with me. I may feel numb but He is still able to reach me, when I offer up a small gift of my attention to His greatness and nearness.
Bundled in a huge scarf and thick coat, I slip into my seat at church - late, but still in time for a Christmas carol or two.
Hail the heav'n born Prince of peace,
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
He brings light to my dark place. He brings life to places that feel like they’re dying inside of me. He comes to me with healing in His wings, coming to die so that I never have to. And again, I can’t sing anymore and tears are flowing out. (If you knew me prior to this year, you would know that tears aren’t really my thing. I am an emotional woman - feeling things deeply - but the feelings don’t usually make it out my eyes.)
When I find myself crying in the middle of every Christmas carol I try to sing, I am sensing quite a few things:
I am sensing that my pain is still there – and so is He.
I am sensing that my pain is still real and valid – and He’s okay with my expression of it.
I am sensing His nearness to me and His offer of comfort to my hurting heart.
I am sensing His hope that He holds out to me at all times, hope that I have clung to so often in this hard season.
I am sensing His delight in my attention to him – my worship that I give Him, even as I find myself at the bottom of this painful pit.
I am sensing deep awe rising up in me – to the miracle of Jesus’ coming, to the glory that came to earth and rests with us today, to God with us – Emmanuel - Jesus, choosing me to be His. This is how I am worshipping Him this Advent season: bringing all of my mess into all of His beauty and loving Him and being loved by Him in it.