Do you remember your childhood? I do. And what I remember was happiness. Oh my dad and mom worked hard to make my life good and have all I needed and there were hard times but I was good. I loved my parents and sister and they loved me and that met most of my needs. It seemed the hard stuff didn't affect me.
I went on to my teenage years in this fantasy life with my parents making things good. I hardly looked at the hard stuff. Even on to my adult and married life. You might call this living in denial of reality. I was protected and hoped to protect my children. The older they got the less possible this was. I put on an image that everything was great. This is not real life. We all have issues and hard stuff in our lives. We were promised suffering. God saw purpose in it. We need to enter in our suffering, feel the pain of it all, not be ok and then go to God and be ok. God is what makes life worth living. He gives us joy in the midst of it all. We all have a cross to carry.
I have been thinking about my cross since Thanksgiving and as you have noticed I haven't written. I couldn't put it into words. I started thinking about how awful it was to have mental illness. All the horrible things that happen because of it and how my family has suffered. I couldn't think straight and the sadness overcame me no matter how hard I tried. I thought about my family and things they had and were going through. Oh I know how blessed we are but I felt the pain of it all again. I don't call this wallowing. I call it reality. I went through the necessary motions of getting preparations for Christmas but I was dragging.
I started thinking...am I putting my family in a world where they have to pretend everything is ok when they are suffering? Do I allow them to not be ok, for a time? You don't want it to swallow you up, but you don't want to deny it either. Feeling a emotions, letting them drive you to God and waiting on His rescue, because in due time He will lift you up, is the healthy way to deal with suffering. There is a way to suffer and let the Lord fill you with trust and know that all things are possible through Him. This does not mean things will necessarily turn out how you expect, but it means it will be better than you expect in ways you have not imagined. God is a redeemer. He is a miracle worker. He brings life out of death and beauty out of ashes. He brings resurrection out of the cross. Expect it, anticipate it, trust Him.
I began thinking of Mary, somewhere between 12 and 14 years old. She was poor, not educated and received news from an angel that she would be an unwed mother and have a baby in a manger with a long way to travel and a life she had not contemplated. But she did ponder these things Luke says. What a life she was chosen to live. The sacrifices and scandal she might incur. God understood her to the point of giving her Elizabeth also with a son, who would be beheaded and gifted and would announce the way of the Lord. He gave her Joseph, but what were his fears. They were young and alone and scared but then...then there was God and the faith He gave them to be blessed beyond anything they could imagine. You cannot view the manger without the cross. Marry was to be blessed. She was to be remembered as the mother of Jesus. Their Son would suffer for the sins of the world because of the love of God. How could this all be. They were only allowed to see what they could see, but God had a plan and He does for you and me. It is one of suffering and one of God's glory. It is a display of love and power and beauty beyond anything we can imagine. There is a cost. Consider it and choose God. Are we willing to enter into it for the joy!