I’m supposed to be at a holiday party right now. But, I can’t go until I process a few things first. I have to write, for hope and for healing. There is no making merry until that happens. For many, there is no making merry at all this year.
Who is this introvert I’ve become? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that my heart bleeds a bit more these days. It bled a lot these last 24 hours.
Yesterday at school, I found out one of my students is the victim of verbal abuse, gang violence, and domestic disturbances. Her home is literally a war zone. As a result, she has speech impediments and no place to study. She is 17. Lord, have mercy.
Last night, as my community group passed out gifts boxes to needy families, a 5-year-old girl told one of my friends that she wants a robe and slippers for Christmas. Strange request from a small child. The reason? “So I won’t be cold at night.” Tonight, the low will drop down to 39 degrees, almost freezing. If her family cannot afford warmer clothing or to run the heat, she may well also go to bed hungry. Lord, have mercy.
Today, by 10 am, I heard that 20 children died, unthinkably, at the hands of a deranged shooter. Untold presents sitting under Connecticut Christmas trees, with 20 children’s names on them, will go unwrapped, forever. Pairs of 20 parents will make an unutterably painful trip back to Toys R Us’s and Targets and return gifts for the children who will never be returned to them. I weep as I write this. I am not a parent, and still this is pain unimaginable to me. Christmas cards magneted on refrigerators this year contain photos of precious faces and smiles that will not be captured in the cards to come. Those gaps will never be filled. Oh, Lord, have mercy.
These are the kinds of days when believers everywhere pray, “Lord, have mercy,” followed quickly by “Oh, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” And therein lies the only Hope. Because He came 2000 years ago, He will come again and He will redeem this sorrow.
And lest we forget, Jesus was one of the brokenhearted. He was born poor, cold, and probably hungry, in a trough for animals. His mother, watched as her son was tortured and killed on a tree (oh, the power of the tree at this time of year). She buried her chid, too. And He was victim to more pain, violence, and agonizing sorrow than any of us will ever know because He took not only His own pain, but also all of ours on that Easter Tree: the student with cruel parents, the little girl with no warm clothes, and the parents who will bury their children this week, and all the hurts of the world. He took it because He chose it. This is grace far more unfathomable than evil.
And so, Lord, have mercy. May your grace and your goodness, in its power and might, outshine even the blackest of nights. May we remember the Child you sent, the one who was the least among us, not by nature nor by nurture, but by Divine Love, born to make us great. May we be people who, although we walk in darkness, have seen a great Light, and follow it to the place where salvation awaits. In every lost child’s face, may we see the Christ child, who holds them, and longs to hold us, in His tiny, but powerful fist.