Unless you count this as one, we won’t be writing a Christmas letter this year. Come to think of it, it’s been a number of years since I sent a Christmas letter. But if we did you might be hanging onto your seat. Then again, in the off paragraphs you might be snoring. But ultimately what I would want you to know is this: Even in the hard years, God is good and does exceedingly above all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20) He is to be praised.
Imagine getting a Christmas letter saying that in a fit of jealous rage one of two sons had killed the other, and in another family letter came the news that the husband had risked his wife’s sexual exploitation for his own hide; then a few years later the same wife had gotten so jealous of a relationship that she, herself, had put into place, that she had sent the destitute progeny away forever. What if your friends wrote you that one child had tricked the near blind, dying father into changing his will. Now here’s some Christmas letter news: the dad had suffered some devastating consequences in his life for a rooftop peeping tom escapade, and later there were some problems in the blending of the half siblings. One had raped his half sister and in revenge another had murdered the rapist. And then later the disowned teen murderer used his charisma and become popular and powerful enough to try to destroy his father.
Likely responses to such tabloid-like stories from God-fearing families might be shock, gossip and judgement. The latter springs from our insatiable desire to measure someone’s tragedy against our own life and surmise how that could never happen to us. Thoughts, if not words, might be…”if the parents had just had them in church every Sunday” to “if they had not chosen that school” to “if they had not been so strict”, or “if they had not been so lenient”, or “if they had just went to marriage counseling” and on and on. We believe in grace, but it often shadows our prideful logic. The disciples tried to lay blame as well, but received this response…”Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) The works of God in a life are really so much more refreshing to focus on! If we could just quickly shift our thoughts to how God may use circumstances, as well as start praying we’d become a part of the miracle of grace, redemption and restoration.
In the above scenarios, God dealt with sin, but saw the heart, (yes, especially the parts that bore His likeness) which is why He could call the fearful husband the father of many nations, the jealous wife a woman to be emulated by all women in regard to respect for her husband, the #1 loser dad a man after God’s own heart in regard to his worshipful and compassionate heart, etc.
Unfortunately, God’s grace and redemption are sometimes not as convincing in humans, and on occasion even purposely omitted, leaving many of us trudging uphill through the storms of life with social apathy (not to be confused with spiritual apathy) as our trail guide. A friend of ours and midwife for two of our childbirths years ago, blogged recently on Christmas letters. “The fact of the matter is, any time any of us have a bad year, we aren’t as likely to send out Christmas cards or a Christmas letter. If we’ve experienced a death in the family, struggled financially, had medical issues, serious kid problems, emotional trauma, a divorce, church drama, or just a year where everything seemed to go wrong, we don’t really feel like sharing. Those things don’t go as well in the end of year brag letter as do educational accomplishments, travel, promotions and awards.” You’ll likely be blessed and entertained if you take time to read her entire post @ the above link. You might even change the way you write next year’s Christmas card or letter.
But meantime, if you didn’t hear much from us, neither did most. Like Roxanne and many of you, we’re still here, still alive, still trusting, hoping, and finding healing in the time out.