How easily we are drawn to the mysterious and the supernatural. We love to read books on the amazing religious conversions of some people in history or how others overcame great disability or tragedy to live successful lives. However, we often skip over the years of waiting, disillusionment, pain, and sorrow that formed the context of these unusual lives. We love to think about the Christmas story in all its beauty and splendor, quietness and majesty but we tend to edit out the pain, the ordinariness, the smells, the frustration and raw conflict which form the backdrop of the Christmas event. It was the people that waited in darkness who would see a great light… Isa 9:1,2.
Could it be that our search for God leads us to the ordinary and the difficult rather than away from it? What I am saying is that God may be more present in the middle of our disappointment, pain, and disillusionment than He is in the mystical or in the monastery. God came into the grinding poverty and harsh reality of a young couple in Palestine and told them that the Son in Mary’s womb would be the Redeemer of the world. God’s Son was not born in a desert hermitage or in the Roman White House but in the back streets of Bethlehem.
There is one more thing about pain and disappointment; not only do they often reveal God but they reveal our own “unsanded” natures. A seventeenth century French mystic, Franois Fenelon wrote, “Slowly you will learn that all the troubles in your life- your job, your health, your inward failings- are really cures to the poison of your old nature.” Thus the very difficulties of my life which I abhor are the very means of grace in which I can find God and are the raw materials of my spiritual development. Pain is often God’s megaphone (C.S. Lewis).
Many of you are facing difficulty this Christmas; financially, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. Don’t give up hope, God is present and He is doing a deeper work in you. May the light of Jesus Christ shine into your darkness this Christmas and may the grace of our Lord be with you as He uses your difficult circumstances to sand smooth the rough surfaces of your inner life.