Christmas Darkness

 

Suffering is unwelcome at any time of the year, but when it comes during Christmas time, it seems to hurt more. Maybe it is because this is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness that pain seems a bit more painful. It may be that this is a tougher time because of the more frequent memories of loved ones who are gone. And I’m thinking also that the contrast of the joy and sorrow makes the sorrow seem a bit darker. Whatever the reason, this is a time of year that leaves us sometimes looking into the night sky for a special light to guide us, like the Magi of so long ago. Many will find themselves living in Christmas darkness this holiday season.

Just today I had an appointment with a friend that I met after Katrina came ashore. Volunteers from Central worked hard to get he and his wife back into their home. I know that some who returned time and again made sure that they went by and visited this special couple. They visited Central several times. In their 60’s, and after a difficult life, this was just one storm among many for them. Sunday afternoon the sweet lady passed away, leaving a grieving husband at Christmas time. I spent some time with him and his granddaughter this afternoon. I’ll be speaking at her funeral this Friday. He is doing well, trying to use humor and precious memories to cope, but it’s still too fresh to seem real.

I also ran into a lady today that we have helped a little. Sixty years old, working full time and making just enough to get by, she cannot rise above the debts that threaten to take away her shelter. This precious lady shared the burdens her heart with me, and I had no answers. I wish I knew something to do. Truthfully most of us would gladly trade debts with her … it isn’t all that much. But when you’re struggling it takes so little to keep you down. How many of us are one paycheck away from being homeless? She already lived in her car for three weeks not long ago. It hurts to know that people are spending millions of dollars during the holidays while she wonders in Christmas darkness just how many more nights she will have a bed in which to sleep. She’s just looking for His light … desperately struggling to maintain the necessities.

I won’t say much more than this, but I also talked with a suffering friend today who lives far away. Punched in the gut by a devil’s deception, his life hangs on the edge of disaster. From the curb his home  may look like every other cozy and joyful residence on the block, but inside there is a pain greater than death. I continue to pray for him. In truth, this can be said of several of my friends. I wish I could embrace them and give them hope and comfort in thier Christmas darkness.

Mom had an appointment yesterday with the doctor. She will have another surgery two days after Christmas. A receptacle will be placed in her breast. Sometime after the first of the year she will go back to the doctor and he will insert a radioactive packet into the receptacle for five days. She will take chemotherapy via pills. She will lose her hair. She is scared, but her doctor has assured her that these medications have come a long way and that the sickness could be minimal. We pray and hope that she copes well. She said she feels like all this talk is about someone else … it doesn’t seem real yet. I think she will emerge victorious, but it will be a while before she feels that way.

Yes, we are surrounded by hurting people are looking for His light. Far more than the colorful bulbs lighting up our beautiful trees there is a source of light that illuminates the soul. Beyond the homes that are wrapped with strands of brilliance there is the warmth of His grace that will strengthen even the weakest heart. When you’re offering your prayers of thanksgiving for the promise of the Incarnation, remember those who are in Christmas darkness. For every package unwrapped with anticipation there is a heart somewhere wondering how to get through this day. It is a good thing to be aware of this. Not so that we can lose our joy, but so that we can share our joy. I want to encourage you today to bring some light into the life of those struggling in the Christmas darkness.

LINKS & THOUGHTS

That was a pretty big blog break for me … it’s been an extremely busy four or five days. Lots going on. We enjoyed our time out of town this weekend. One of our adventures was getting behind an accident on the interstate that kept us from moving on for 5 and a half  hours! Yikes! We never know when life will send a new adventure our way, do we? Life’s been pretty much non-stop since we got back into town. But I think everyone’s running on all cylinders during the holiday express.

My friend Al is moving.

Darrin’s Waffle House Church.

Matt’s 20 Tips for Better Blogging.

I’m way behind on my blog reader, so I may post some older links over the next few days. But millions of my readers know that I only link outstanding posts, so they are pretty much timeless.  We should continue to pray for the thousands without power in Oklahoma. I remember a few weeks like that, only there was no snow.

Blessings,

john

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