The Christmas season has been in full swing now for over 2 weeks, and I have yet to participate in any activities associated with this time of year. I have yet to:
1. Unpack the Christmas decorations
2. Buy or decorate a Christmas tree
3. Buy any Christmas presents
4. Go to a Christmas party
5. Watch a classic Christmas movie
Does scrooge come to mind when you think of my lack Christmas spirit?
I really do want the Christmas spirit, but my current circumstances have diverted my attention to complete non-holiday tasks. Rather than decorating the house for the season, Kevin and I have spent the months of November and December dismantling and emptying our house in Bend, Oregon of its contents in preparation for the sale on December 15th.
On December 13th, I went to the court house to pick up our final judgement of marriage dissolution, and Kevin and I parted ways when our house closed on the 15th. I will not get the keys to my house in Medford, Oregon until January 2nd. For now, all I have is what I can fit in my car: A makeshift office (I work remote for a California Bank), my dog and several suit cases.
I’m grateful I will be in Corvallis, Oregon between Christmas and New Years so that I will be near my daughter who lives in Corvallis. Her friend, Ayanna, will be visiting during this time also. So, the 3 amigos will be spending the holiday together. We also were invited to the Jensen’s house in Corvallis on Christmas day.
I feel like that little girl standing in front of the department store window where there is a beautiful snowy and magical scene taking place before me, but the glass window is keeping me from joining in. That is what this Christmas season has become for me. So much has changed in one year.
One year ago, my house in Bend sparkled with laser lights, had a blown up Frosty the snowman waving to the neighbors, a huge, fresh cut Christmas tree inside that had every inch covered with lights, decorations throughout the house and wonderful food smells as neighbors and friends came over to eat.
I say all this not to get you to feel sorry for me but to let you know that I relate to all the lonely, heartbroken and suffering people during this Christmas season who also have circumstances that are eclipsing the joyful celebrations of the season. So, I hope the verses I share in this blog will bring courage and hope to those who are suffering this Christmas season.
In the New International Version, Romans 8:18-21 begins with the sub-title Present Suffering and Future Glory.
Just the sub-title alone is profound to me because present suffering is paired with future glory. You see, God’s word always promises hope and a future when suffering is mentioned.
Take for example Romans 8:18-21 (The Voice version):
18 Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. 19 For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 20 You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God’s. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope 21 that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God.
The apostle Paul is speaking these words. He is saying that my present suffering pales in comparison to the future glory that is coming. So, as I walk through this dark valley and experience an unfamiliar grief, I can be confident that when I am finally liberated from this world and experience the glorious freedom promised to me in this verse, my suffering will not be worth revisiting. It will be remembered no more. In other words, I won’t be recounting all the ways I have been wronged or felt pain during my life on this earth to my fellow heaven dwellers.
I love this sentence in the verses above, “Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope….” God created humans and this world with the ability to have a deep and abiding hope in the middle of our deepest pain, corruption and tragedy. God does not create something and walk away and say, “You are hopeless, and I can do nothing for you.” No! God is the hopeless romantic. He will see this broken world and our sinful hearts through to the glorious end.
So, as I face a new life as a divorcee without Kevin, I will not feel sorry for myself this Christmas season. Instead, I will wait in eager expectation for the greatest Christmas present of all which is the future glory God is so excited to reveal to those who love him.
How about you? Are you sad this Christmas season? Have you also been unable to spend time focusing on holiday celebrations because you must deal with a difficult situation? I hope you will find comfort in God’s Word and develop that deep and abiding hope in God’s promise for the liberation of our suffering here on earth. Read the entire chapter of Romans 8. Meditate on it. Pray about it. You’ll be encouraged. I promise.