Monday, December 21, 2015

Silent Night

400 years. Silence. Nothing. Not a sign in the sky or a word from the prophets. Nothing but stories of exodus passed down from generation to generation. They heard of God's faithfulness to others, but they had never experienced it for themselves.

The children of Israel had to be wondering if the stories were true. Were the promises just meant for someone else or did God have something in store for them, too? 

And then Christmas happened. And we are all supposed to celebrate and sing "Joy to the World" because Jesus came and all is now right with the world.

Only it's not. Yep, I said it. Despite the song that tells us otherwise, Christmas isn't always the most wonderful time of the year. Sometimes it's just hard. 

I am, by nature, a Christmas nerd. Christmas socks, tons of food, Elvis Presley singing on the radio, and loud family gatherings are my jam. But Christmas is about kids and those Christmases where I longed for them the most were some of the worst of my life. Everywhere I looked there were cute kids in their Christmas finery singing Joy to the World and I was anything but joyful. I would sit in church and dream of the day when those were my kids on the stage singing and I would pray that I wouldn't have to endure another Christmas where I had to answer the inevitable, "so when are y'all having kids?" question.

Instead, year after year, I heard silence. That's not to say God wasn't speaking in other areas of my life, but in the area of my family, I just kept hearing static on the other end of the line. And it hurt a lot, but especially at Christmas. Because I wanted to celebrate the birth of a baby. I just wanted it to be my baby and not the one who came for us all.

I'm not an expert on grief and I have no idea what Christmas must be like for people who are suffering from other heart aches--the loss of a loved one, or a sick child, or another unimaginable tragedy. But I know what it's like to sit in that silence and long for the one thing you can't have. 

And I also know what it's like when He breaks that silence. For me it came in the form of two boys who are anything but quiet. But I don't want people to think that I'm okay just because now I have everything I prayed for. Because that's not the case for everyone. People don't always come back  and sickness doesn't always go away, and sometimes circumstances just stay hard. 

But, rest assured, just because we may not hear Him, doesn't mean He is quiet. And if we sit in the silence, and lean in close enough, sometimes, instead of just hearing Him speak, perhaps we can hear Him singing... 

"What hope we hold this starlit night
A King is born in Bethlehem
Our journey long, we seek the light
That leads to the hallowed manger ground

What fear we felt in the silent age
Four-hundred years can He be found
But broken by a baby's cry
Rejoice in the hallowed manger ground

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel

The son of God, here born to bleed
A crown of thorns would pierce His brow
And we beheld this offering
Exalted now the King of kings
Praise God for the hallowed manger ground

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
God incarnate, here to dwell
Emmanuel, Emmanuel
Praise His name Emmanuel

Oh, praise His name Emmanuel
Oh, praise His name Emmanuel"

Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)Chris Tomlin
from the album Glory In The Highest

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