She lets tears roll down her face and wipes them away. She tells me “I hate Christmas. It’s the hardest time of the year.” She will be alone this year. Her husband has been gone for years, not dead, just gone. Left her, walked out of her life. Her daughter sits in a prison cell in Atlanta on drug conviction and her grandson? He’s celebrating with a family he does not know while he is in foster care somewhere in the next town over. If you can all it celebrating.
The mother makes her husband go into Kroger for milk this time of year because she can’t stand the sight of tinsel and wreaths. The piped in tunes of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year” will dissolve her into a heap of tears. No one loved Christmas more than her baby-son and he’s not here. It does not seem like more than two years but it has been that long since he took his own life because living seemed too painful for him. To celebrate seems like betrayal of her sorrow so she struggles through the Hardest Time of year.
He watches her put on a brave face. The kids don’t really get it. They know their mom is sick, but they don’t understand all that means. Instead, she does every single thing to make the Christmas the best for them….. just in case…… and he fights back urge not to scream as it makes it up his throat at least three times a day. And this year is different, but not in a good way.
Sometimes the pain of reality overpowers the celebration of His birth. Sometimes in the struggle to face the day we forget the promise of Advent….He is coming.
And when he comes……
He restores families. He has the power to break addictions. He can bring a family back together with the power of His love. I’ve seen it. I’ve sat in their living room and listened to their story. I believe it.
He heals hearts. I’m not sure how he does it because the pain is always present, never forgotten, but He is right there. He somehow in his God-Man understands our hurt as He walks beside us ever present in his Deity.
He brings hope and trades us this unending, undying hope for our tears and despair. He gently reminds us about the fragileness of life. He points us to the greater tomorrow where there is no night or cancer.
And the preacher man tells me this morning about the all-sufficiency of this God-Man. He tells me that His gifts are never as incredible as Him. He reminds me not to look for His gifts, but to seek to know Him. Because as long we are tied to this earth, with every sunrise, with every December 25th, there will be heartbreak. Don’t be surprised and don’t lose hope. Because as certain as the sunrise, even more so is the sufficiency of this God-Man to meet us exactly where we are.
And that is the Advent story…. God becomes man and meets us where we are to give us hope in the face of Jesus Christ.