Happy Christmas: Musical Reflections 8: For the Stuck and the Hopeful

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth

I have found as I have gotten older the reality that brokenness is the lot of this world.

This is true on your typical Tuesday…this is true at Christmas.

When you’re young and you don’t see as much, Christmas feels like tinsel and ribbons.

But as you get older, you see more.

You see the ones who have lost precious loved one’s grieving. Christmas doesn’t make that better, but often makes the grief ache palpably.

You see the ones who are frail and hurting—winter makes their bones hurt all the more. Infection makes gathering risky.

You see the ones who are sad more gloomy as the sun sets sooner, and the winter skies darken more days than not.

You see the over-working ones working all the more—running from task to task, party to party, never quite slowing down to breathe and enjoy.

For the lonely one, there can be almost a panic of spending one more day, one more evening alone with their thoughts.

You see the one battling addiction all the more tempted.

You see the ones in conflict fighting over the tinsel and ribbons.

There is just more heartache than my child eyes could see.

But God sees.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Pining—such an interesting word.

It means….

To suffer mental and physical decline.

It’s associated with a broken heart.

The author of this Christmas song saw bigger.

That at the most magical times, heartache often grows versus lessens.

And this is the state of the world.

When we are hurting—in whatever ways we are hurting, we often think we are doing so invisibly and in solitude.

But, if the Bible and this lyric are correct, the state of the world is heartache.

It is pervasive.

Look to the right and to the left. Linger long enough. Listen long enough and you will hear it in the words of every person you meet.

In sin and error pining

We are stuck,

On a hamster wheel of exhaustion, pain and failure…

Unless there is a rescuer.

Thank goodness there is.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

Until he appeared and the soul felt it’s worth.

Jesus did appear.

He showed up, as He promised us.

He didn’t leave us alone to fend for ourselves.

He didn’t disregard our pain.

He didn’t leave us helpless in our temptation and sin.

He appeared.

He was the only One who could.

He was the Only one perfect enough to do something about that sin and pain in a permanent way.

Oh, there are solutions—some beautiful gifts of His grace…but He is the only true Physician, the Wonderful Counselor, the best Protector, the only Savior.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

And the soul felt it’s worth.

What makes our soul move?

What makes our eyes open wider?

What makes our heart beat a little more wildly?

What makes us sigh a deep breath?

What makes us weep with joy?

He appeared, and the heart of God’s children are moved to the core.

I wish my soul was a little softer—a little more in tune with Him.

I can write down moment after moment—strings of memories where this lyric was true. Is true.

And those moments, those pearls on a string I don’t experience as often as I’d like.

That’s not because He isn’t present.

That’s not because He isn’t working miracle after miracle with every moment that passes.

It’s because I haven’t stopped to allow my soul to feel it.

___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___

I was talking to a client the other day who is walking through horrendous circumstances.

When people say, that’s my worst nightmare…this is what she is living.

As a therapist I try to validate and encourage; and I’m learning that sometimes the most validating thing is to tell the truth about the circumstances people are in.

So, they feel less crazy.

They know I see it too.

They don’t have to be alone in it while the people around them try to write a silver lining that won’t fix the heartache.

Well, I did just that. I told the truth and acknowledged the horrible nightmare she was in.

And she wept. And said, That’s so kind.

And we talked about this season.

The messiness of it.

The way our minds go a little mad as we scroll Instagram or watch Christmas movies and the chaos of the world remains. The glossy pictures and shiny things seem to make us feel like the messy circumstances we are in are somehow wrong. 

Maybe I should be happier.

Maybe I should be less lonely.

Am I doing something wrong?

Has God forgotten me, but remembered everybody else?

And then we remembered together the messiness of Jesus’ story.

We remembered what we are celebrating.

The story of Jesus isn’t a Hallmark movie.

It isn’t tame and G rated.

We are celebrating…

A Perfect Savior leaving His perfect Home with His perfect community to rescue a people who would reject Him.

A Savior choosing to put on flesh so He could encounter and experience the pain of living in a broken body—where everything is fractured. And He, being the only perfect One would feel that fracturing all the more than those lulled to a sleepy oblivion through the normalcy of sin and suffering.

He sacrificed the pleasure of complete peace to go on a rescue mission.

In that rescue mission, He didn’t come as a superhero or a valiant King.

He was not armed with a shield and a sword.

He chose, instead, to come as a helpless baby, born to a teen mom whose pregnancy was a scandal.

He chose to be born to a poor family, with a carpenter Father.

He chose to be born in a manger without any comfort.

He chose to live a life of dependence on imperfect parents.

He chose to live a life of submission and anonymity until it was time to reveal what He came to do.

He chose to live a life of complete sacrifice—always looking to serve and bless and save.

He chose to live without a home.

He chose to sacrifice food and water when necessary.

He chose to live in solitude outside of a motley crew of followers who would disappoint Him and leave Him and betray Him.

He chose for His words of love to be His only weapon as He spread the good news that brokenness would someday be finished.

As He corrected the religious leaders for their false narratives and gospels, He quickly became the target of slander and gossip and hatred.

He was the gentle leader they did not like.

He was the truth-speaker who they called a liar.

He was the one they spat at,

Stabbed,

Killed unjustly.

He was buried in another man’s tomb.

Jesus knows something-everything of horrific.

So when our lives are marked with more dirt than glitter, more heartache than joy; perhaps this is the season just for us.

Perhaps our hearts and souls get it a little more than if we simply cheered to health, wealth and prosperity.

Perhaps our circumstances allow our hearts to beat in more unison with our Savior.

To allow the hope He gives us moment by moment, pearl by pearl to allow us to cling to the future joy we will experience with Him.

To allow the faithful perseverance to mimic Him in someway that others are lulled a little more out of their sleepiness and into the adventure story they were born for.

We were built for more than tinsel and ease and comfort.

We were built like our King.

We were built to push back darkness and endure suffering while trusting and believing that the end goal will be worth the pain.

We watched our Savior do this—He fought on our behalf. He is still fighting for us.

And He is cheering us on as we choose to believe that whatever pain we endure will be worth it.

He is worth it.

Oh, Jesus—let us feel it.

Let us know your worth in our bones so we can live to fight another day. Until you take us home.

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