I came home yesterday from a very difficult day of Christmas shopping in Houston with the kids, and confessed to my husband on a phone call during the trip home that I was lacking some serious Christmas spirit. This season is usually filled with joy, hope, excitement, and anticipation. But this year, I was feeling somewhat numb and a bit robotic as I went through the motions with my children. Throwing in an insane day of whining, traffic, uncompleted lists, spilled drinks, and dirty diapers…well, you can imagine. Without sounding too dramatic, hopelessness describes aptly my state of mind the last few months. As I pulled into the driveway last night, I was truly at the point where grief might completely overwhelm me. I wanted to hope, but knew to hope meant I had to be vulnerable. I am no stranger to grief. I have walked this road with God before, loosing more than I thought imaginable. The familiarity of the process crashes my memories, and I know the journey through loss is long and painful. I also know the intimacy with God is such that makes the journey incomparable and without regret. But as I pulled in last night, the oppressive darkness clouded most logic, and hope was just beyond my reach. My husband met me as I stepped out of the car, and took the loads I was carrying from my hands. He sent me on a scavenger hunt, with notes posted all over the house, leading me to our Christmas tree. Our tree is filled with ornaments full of meaning. Every year Jared and I give the kids and each other an ornament symbolizing a marker, a milestone from the previous year. Led through clues to the back of the tree, I found a small bag containing a handmade ornament displaying Isaiah 11:6, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb…”
Also in the bag was a poem my husband wrote a few weeks ago, as he contemplated the journey we were facing together.
When days are cold and dreary,
And nights seem dark and cold,
The light of the world does shine,
To warm our hearts and souls.
O’ let the light in,
And let a new day dawn!
Be warmed by God’s eternal brilliance,
Oh, and cold…be gone!
And there it was…the kindle of hope renewing deep in my soul. I felt the permission to hope because Christ as my foundation will never be shaken. His light can never be smothered. The Spirit will always empower the believer to hope in what cannot be denied or stolen…salvation. The new day will dawn and the cold will be overcome in the warmth of God’s faithfulness. This morning I have a renewed awareness for those suffering during this season. There are days and nights when the cold and the dreariness seem to be an eternal fate. But Christmas is here to renew our hope, to give us permission to hope. Just as they were waiting for a Savior to come many years ago, we are now waiting for Him to return. This return will seal our eternal state, one in which no suffering and no grief can ever crouch at the door of our souls to overwhelm and ruin us. In fact, we can hope knowing this final return will bring the day when the wolf lies with the lamb. He will make all things new.