The Christmas season is here, but much of the excitement and tingly warm fuzzies are absent this time. 2012 has been a season of harvest and change, and as we step forward into 2013, in many aspects, nothing will ever be the same again.
My folks are moving away to a place where I can't visit them. My very ill aunt barely made it through emergency surgery last night and we're all praying she'll make it another day. My niece's medical condition couldn't be corrected by multiple surgeries and faces permanent disability, and my brother-in-law faces the imminent passing of his sister due to terminal illness.
On top of it, the psychological burden we share as a society in the wake of the Newtown shootings, and it's enough to make me feel like Christmas is the worst time of year.
It's enough to make a person angry with God for allowing so much suffering in the world.
But it is through suffering and loss that we come to a fuller understanding what love truly is. We apprehend the frailty of human life, and the fact that every single moment of our lives is a gift. Through loss, we understand the magnitude and power of love, perhaps too late, or perhaps as a blessing, knowing that the ones who are no longer with us loved and were loved in return.
The anger comes when we realize we are all subject to the sovereignty of God and His mystery, but we don't agree with it. We shout and shake our fist at God and curse Him for not saving us from our sufferings.
Perhaps, then, Christmas is the best time for deep, serious things to happen in our lives. For all we have to do is look at the image of the baby in the manger to realize that God has already saved us from our sufferings. He already endured the hardest thing imaginable, the loss of a child, His only Son, in service to a greater plan, His plan, to save us from ourselves.
Perhaps it is this time of year, so callously glossed over by the ubiquitous merchandising machine, in which we should be somber, we should be reverent, we should hold our candles at our candlelight Christmas Eve service with a new respect, as we would in the countless candlelight vigils in Newtown, to pay tribute to the unimaginable sacrifice of an innocent child to the evil of sin and lawlessness.
The loss is staggering, and our God endured it for us willingly, because He knew that something better was coming. There are no words to console a grieving parent, child, brother, or sister over the loss of a loved one.
But it should be a potent reminder that we are only able to love in this way because God first loved us.