There was no getting around it; I had to walk through the very thing I had avoided for years.
As I left the medical building, the sights and sounds of the holiday season were everywhere. The air was crisp, and the roads were packed with drivers who apparently believed they owned the road but forgot to send out the memo.
The last thing on my mind was being thankful or thoughtful. I just wanted it all to be over, but all my wishing couldn’t change the fact that I had to have surgery and, unless the Lord provided a miracle, the recovery would be incredibly painful for months.
There’s something about the holidays that causes dread in many of us. It may not be surgery, but it’s something . . .
- The mother-in-law who drives you nuts
- The reminder that the one you loved won’t be with you this Christmas
- Physical pain that won’t let up
- Not knowing what to get your child with a disability because toys are of no interest
- Messy, uncomfortable, and unresolved family issues
- The exhaustion of caregiving
- Decorating for Christmas
Family tension, personal trials, emotional trouble, sentimental Christmas songs, and fa-la-la-la-la fanfare (for those with the “fake it till we make it” mind-set) can make it easy for us to let our inner Grinch emerge.
Our Pain . . . Jesus’ Pain
As I wrestled with the news of having to endure another back surgery along with the months of pain that follow, one thought surfaced:
What was it like for Christ to accept His Father’s will?
Think on that for a moment, will you?
Having created all things in perfect order, Christ did nothing to cause sin to enter the world. Having done nothing wrong, God’s only Son left heaven . . . LEFT HEAVEN . . . and was born into this world. I have to think that was a big, BIG BUMMER for Him. Not only that, His life on earth was hard! The prophet Isaiah provided a daunting, disturbing description of what Christ was to experience during His life on earth.
I hope you will pause and ponder each fact.
- He was hated and rejected (Isaiah 53:3).
- He knew sorrow and grief (53:3).
- He was betrayed, and no one cared (53:3).
- False assumptions were made about Him (53:4).
- He was bullied and beaten beyond recognition (53:5).
- He endured a thoroughly unjust trial and was sentenced to death (53:8).
- He was crushed in every way (53:10).
The passage, originally written in the Hebrew language, gives a far more horrifying word picture of what Christ endured. People expected a king who would come with pomp and circumstance and riches beyond imagination. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Jesus left heaven, where EVERYTHING is fabulous and perfect, to live a life of horrific sorrow and pain so that people, by the power of the Holy Spirit, might believe and enter into a saving relationship with Him—to the glory of God the Father. His heart of love for you and for me is beyond human understanding.
The Grinch’s Heart-Change
How the Grinch Stole Christmas concludes with the Grinch’s heart growing, bursting through the little box it was trapped in.
Few things soften our hearts like love. And love may be the last descriptive word on your mind right now. Why? Because you don’t love your circumstances, your family or friends who have betrayed you, or your body that isn’t working as you wish it would.
You can choose to endure another Christmas clinging to a resentful, difficult attitude. In doing so, you will miss the entire message of Christmas. We celebrate because WE as believers are loved, treasured, and forgiven by God’s abounding grace. What if you made the decision to choose differently this year . . . to give yourself to the unlovely and difficult, to forgive those who have wronged you, to release your expectations of how you think things “should” be?
The world believes that a king should portray himself in a certain way . . . yet Jesus came to us born in a lowly stable. He didn’t arrive sitting on a throne. Will you pause and consider changing your perspective as well?
I’ll be in recovery from another back surgery as you read these words. It’s not the way I want to spend the holidays, but God’s plan is good and right. I’m choosing to walk according to His will by His strength alone. God’s strength is available to you as well.
Let Me Hear from You
What would happen if this year you allowed the Lord to soften your heart?
By the way . . . Merry Christmas to you, my loved and treasured friend!
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