Joy . Sorrow . Joy

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas has always been an interesting time, it is often a time that is compared to great joy, but for many it is also a time of great sorrow.

When we first arrived in Congo I remember mourning what christmas had ment to me in the past; family, snow, Christmas Eve at Aunty kathys, Boxing Day at Auntie Hopes, Chinese food with the Hopper side of the family. Lots of good memories; lots of good people. But now we live in Congo, away from all things familiar and it was hard, it was difficult to get used to and part of me didn't want to, I loved what I had. However now 4 years later things have become familiar, we have made new traditions as a family and made great friends. So now much joy as come back into this season for me, it doesn't mean I don't miss what used to be, but I am now instead remembering it with Joy and and thankful for the new things. However this Christmas I have been vividly reminded of the sorrow some face during this time of the year.
Our community has had a rough couple months, with family members ill, houses falling apart, over 1000 legally adopted children still unable to go home, our guards house was completely washed away during recient floods but most of all is the story of a little girl named Hailey. 

Hairy is the niece of our team mates Randy and Vanessa Clairmont, Hailey was born with major brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation in the womb early on. She was not brain dead but she was not able open her eyes, cry, or regulate her gag reflex. Because of this she was able to spend a few precious days with her loving parents but then went to be with Jesus. (I can not begin to do this beautiful girls story justice, please read their Blog and be in prayer for this family)
So much sorrow, at a time where there should be so much Joy. 
Then I think back to the reason we celebrate Christmas, it was because a little baby came. But we celebrate it not because of the act of his birth (no matter how amazing) but because one day he would die. Joy and Sorrow. I wonder if Mary did really know her son would one day be brutally tortured and killed, did she reflect on that knowledge on the day he was born or was she just able to enjoy her new baby.
So we celebrate the birth, with knowledge of the death... But he didn't say dead, he rose again and defeated death. Joy. Sorry. Joy.  

But why then did Jesus need to come at all? I love this explanation by C.S. Lewis 

"...This repentance, this willing submission to humiliation and a kind of death, is not something God demands of you before He will take you back and which He could let you off of if He chose: it is simply a description of what going back to Him is like.  If you ask God to take you back without it, you are really asking Him to let you go back without going back.  It cannot happen.  Very well, then, we must go through with it.  But the same badness which makes us need it, makes us unable to do it.  Can we do it if God helps us?  Yes, but what do we mean when we talk of God helping us?  We mean God putting into us a bit of Himself, so to speak.  He lends us a little of His reasoning powers and that is how we think: He puts a little of His love into us and that is how we love one another.  When you teach a child writing, you hold its hand while it forms the letters: that is, it forms the letters because you are forming them.  We love and reason because God loves and reasons and holds our hand while we do it.  Now if we had not fallen, that would all be plain sailing.  But unfortunately we now need God's help in order to do something which God, in His own nature, never does at all - to surrender, to suffer, to submit, to die.  Nothing in God's nature corresponds to this process at all.  So that the one road for which we now need God's leadership most of all is a road God, in His own nature, has never walked.  God can share only what He has: this thing, in His own nature, He has not.But supposing God became a man - suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person - then that person could help us.  He could surrender His will, and suffer and die, because He was man; and He could do it perfectly because He was God.  You and I can go through this process only if God does it in us; but God can do it only if He becomes man.  Our attempts at this dying will succeed only if we men share in God's dying, just as our thinking can succeed only because it is a drop out of the ocean of His intelligence: but we cannot share God's dying unless God dies; and he cannot die except by being a man.  That is the sense in which He pays our debt, and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all."
So even built into this season, of celebration and joy, is an aspect of sorrow and suffering. However I hope that in years to come that Haileys family may be able to come back around to Joy, with out forgetting the suffering. For they were given a beautiful little girl, even just for a short time, and though we may not understand why I pray that our God who understands all our sufferings, who suffered himself can indeed bring about Peace, Joy and Hope.

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:15

He knows, he understands, he relates and says "...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" -John 16:33

P.S. Please be in prayer for Vanessa as she attempted to fly back to be with her sister yesterday but after a series of events missed her flight. This is heart breaking. Please pray for favour and Gods grace and mercy upon this situation.