where suffering meets joy

Here’s a little piece I wrote for the guidance newsletter this month:

My friend went to Kenya in 2008 and found himself surrounded by refugees displaced by civil war.

We all marveled at the pictures and listened to his tales when he returned, but after a while, we found ourselves again caught up in our lives layered with routines and more “important” matters. His experience was forced to fit into phrases like, “Oh, yeah, when you were in Africa…” because we didn’t have time for deeper questions requiring deeper answers.

As we step into this Christmas season, much of our discomfort results from crowded checkout lines and shopping cart traffic jams. Our culture presses in to define this celebration with catchy tag lines and guilt-ridden advertisements enticing us to add another gift to the cumbersome pile.

The joy in the angels’ announcement that filled the sky at Christ’s birth is somehow reduced to greeting cards and cavalier “Happy Holidays” thrown around like plastic swiped in those nifty little machines.

Scan of a Christmas greeting card.
Image via Wikipedia

Is the subject of your holiday adoration worthy of all the discomfort?

As I examine my own motives for crafting homemade gifts, my mind wanders back to my friend who went to Kenya. Maybe we moved on so quickly from his experience because being near to someone’s pain brings a certain suffering to our lives as well.

Thinking about Kenya beyond the powerpoints and post-trip Q & A is… uncomfortable, and we have a tidy way of stuffing uncomfortable stories in the attic while we stuff stockings over the fireplace.

Though we often set them against each other, suffering is not opposite joy. Christ, who for the joy set before Him, endured the great suffering of the cross. When we open our lives and hearts to let the Spirit move in us, we will experience some of the greatest suffering and most abundant joy.

Christmas is both a time to celebrate the joy of a Savior and a time to long for Christ’s appearing as the only response to the suffering around us.

The closer we walk with those who are suffering, the more we will wonder at God’s joy in this season. Who will you choose to walk beside this season, sharing their pain? Great joy awaits, dear sojourner… GREAT JOY!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

One thought on “where suffering meets joy

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