For some of us, the joy of the holidays is tempered by sorrow.
Someone somewhere has wounded us deeply, let us down, rejected and abused us. We’re staggering still under the shock of loss.
A relationship lost, a friend turned away, all the memories of a lifetime tainted by the shadows of bitterness.
And so we redouble our efforts. Cards and gifts and messages meant to soothe the brokenness. We try to understand, imagine what it must be like, living through all that awfulness. We justify the ugly words and hang on to any sign of hope.
But still, the silence stretches.
And after a while our hearts grow cold. My heart grows cold. Resentment sets in, a sort of callused indifference, It’s her problem, what do I care?
And then the holidays come, with pictures of families laughing, of gifts and memories, of celebrated histories and shared loves.
And it hurts all over again.
David— psalmist, father, shepherd, king— knew all about that deepest grief.
At times his anger spilled recklessly from his pen, “They repay me with evil for the good I do. I am sick with despair.” (Psalm 35:12)
At other times he graciously consented to yield his pain to the One who has the wherewithal to make things right. “Don’t be impatient for the LORD to act, travel steadily along His path. He will honor you…” (Psalm 37:34)
The one thing he didn’t do was pretend it didn’t hurt.
When someone hurts us deeply, we have a couple of choices: retaliate or retreat.
The retaliators get most of the bad press. They’re the insistent ones who go on the attack. Needing an explanation, they throw out a volley of accusations intended to knock some sense into the situation.
Others are more the retreating types. Loathe to expose themselves to more pain, they withdraw into the safety of silence. Indifference masks their mourning— coldness that could chill a glacier.
But for those of us who are honestly trying to be followers of Jesus, neither option is the way of the Kingdom. If we want Him fully involved in our lives, we’re going to have to make a different choice.
A difficult choice.
Because Jesus knows all about rejection and abandonment.
He knows about spitters and abusers and mean men and accusers. He knows what its like to be mocked and humiliated, underappreciated and cast aside.
And He chose a different way:
“This suffering is all part of what God has called you to.
Christ, who suffered for you, is your example.
Follow in His steps.
He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted.
When He suffered, he did not threaten to get even.
He left His case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.”
And He offers some advice to aching hearts who suffer in much the same way:
“ It is God’s will that your good lives should silence
those who make foolish accusations against you…
Show respect to everyone…
Love your Christian brothers and sisters…
Don’t repay evil for evil.
Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you…
Instead, pay them back with a blessing.”
I Peter 2,3
Pretty clear, isn’t it?
Entrusting our pride and our problems and our aching hearts to God. He is neither powerless nor passive. Just as Jesus called out to His Father on the Cross, we cry out to Him in our loss. We give over our indignities to Him who judges righteously, laying all our shredded souls before the One whose love makes us whole.
Because waiting is the way to trust. And trust is the way to faith. And faith pleases God.
By choosing to wait on God, we forfeit our right to retaliate, our right to act the way we feel, our right to savagely attack our attackers.
It is the secret strategy of a beautiful woman, the potent weapon of a strong man, to bring a blessing where curses echo.
To smile a soft kiss of whispered love.
To reach forward.
To do it again.
And so for all of us who bear the burden of loved ones lost, let us together choose the way of the Cross.
Let us pray… entrusting our lost ones to Him.
Let us wait… for His Spirit to work and weave peace where sin has caused chaos.
And let us bless… whether we feel like it or not, leaving a waft of His beauty to soothe ravaged souls.
“That is what God wants you to do, and He will bless you for it.”
I Peter 3:9
From a heart who knows,
P.S. All this year I have watched a young woman choose this way of beauty in the aftermath of a tragedy thrust upon her by others. With wisdom she has navigated through turbulence that would have sunk most of us. She is wise. She is strong. She is beautiful.
I love you!