Days are shorter. There is a slight chill in the Florida air, enough to make the Christmas lights fit in. (After living some of my childhood further north, Christmas ‘should’ be cold.) With limitations following my hip surgery, most of my preparations have been online shopping, though I’d much rather be outside on a ladder hanging lights. Since this enforced inactivity has gone on for so long, sometimes I feel out of step, almost futile.
Perhaps the very-pregnant Mary on her forever donkey ride to Bethlehem had moments like that. I wonder how many times she had to replay the angel’s words in her mind, and bite back complaints about the bumpy ride, or her weariness.
I wonder how many times she thought, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
When a child dies, I pray for the grieving family and say, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
When a careless or drunk driver crashes into a vehicle, killing a family or a busload of children, I say, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
When a plane crashes into a mountain, wiping out a complete soccer team of hopeful young men, one who had just learned he was to be a father, I say, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
When I recall my mother’s slow, cruel decline into dementia, and the aching loss after her death, I say, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
There is so much at work in this world that warps creation, thwarts our good intentions, strives to bend and destroy.
And, rather than jingling bells, at the time of the year when we expect cheer, we may feel out of sync with the bustle of activity and the brightness of the lights.
Like this bewildered bird who landed in a construction zone in the midst of traffic where winter nesting grounds used to be, sometimes we aren’t celebrating.
We feel more like life is chewing us up and spitting us out. Barricaded from life as it should be.
It shouldn’t be like this.
And walking with God in the cool of the evening.
Isn’t that precisely why Mary had to endure that bone wrenching ride? Why God entered our story, born as a human child, suffering all we suffer, and growing into a man who looked down from the cross and saw clearly, “It shouldn’t be like this.”
Then he cried, “It is finished!” and the work of redemption of creation began.
But the transformation isn’t complete yet. That’s one of the reasons we celebrate Advent. We look forward to the time when Jesus returns as king of the world.
And, finally, everything will be as it should.
No more tears.
No more pain.
No more brokenness.
No more sorrow.
No more death.
God will once again look on the world and say, “It is good.”
Until then, we live in a broken, hurting world. But even in the darkest times we don’t have to let our hearts dwell in the shadows, or the pain.
Jesus says, “Come to me.”
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt 11:28-30 HSB
The Amplified Bible adds another layer of meaning:
Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.]For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. Matt 11:28-30 AMP
Whether you carry your own burden, or ache for another, do you sometimes find yourself out of step with those around you? How do you handle it?