© 2017 Lynn Abbott
I’ll never forget the day my twelve-year-old brother announced, “There is no Santa Claus.”
I was five at the time, and we were riding in the back seat of my mother’s 1965 Volkswagen bug.
My brother’s timing was impeccable. I had just had my photo taken with Santa.
It was a cold, rainy day in the San Francisco Bay area, and I did my best to hold back my tears even though they threatened to mingle with the raindrops beading on bug’s back window.
My hopes and expectations dashed; the day closed in around me. I wondered if there would even be a Christmas that year.
In this way, my first truly memorable disappointment made its debut.
And I keenly sympathized with the inhabitants of C.S. Lewis’ frozen Narnia.
I wondered if there would even be a Christmas that year.
Indeed. In his children’s classic, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis perfectly painted the disappointment, heartbreak and weariness that we all inevitably encounter.
We certainly long for better.
But as Shakespeare once wrote, “Now is the winter of our discontent…”
You and I grieve many things in this world…
Perhaps, a son or daughter has wandered into dangerous waters,
a spouse has betrayed you or a loved one,
financial failure threatens,
health concerns may overshadow the season,
or you’ve lost a loved one.
Maybe, this Christmas, you feel life is especially tenuous. And like Lewis’ Narnia inhabitants, you wonder if Christmas blessings will ever come.
In this world, you and I face an avalanche of disappointed hope.
You may face an avalanche of disappointed hope. Undoubtedly, in this world, grief, injustice, fear, and evil run amok. It’s enough to make anyone heartsick.
Indeed. Solomon himself wrote, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” (Proverbs 13:12).
Never has truer word been spoken.
I’m glad Solomon didn’t stop with the first part of the verse. The whole of his proverb reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Pain, suffering and disappointment are only temporary. They are hope deferred.
What it really comes down to is this: Abba’s path to paradise is radically different from the road we expect.
He promised His people welfare, a future and hope. Yet, the journey to that blessing has never run according to human wisdom.
Christmas actually reminds me that God’s ways frequently don’t make human sense.
In early A.D., expectations for an earthly ruler ran high in Israel. I imagine that many bedtime prayers included requests for the Messiah to crush the Roman Empire. God’s people understandably looked for their Messianic king.
Their Old Testament Scripture readings focused on Messiah as conquering king. And the Jews were not alone in such thinking. When the Magi arrived in Israel, they told Herod that they looked for the prophesied king of Israel.
The coming reign of David’s heir was much-anticipated.
In this context, God’s plan is particularly shocking: a stable and a manger greeted Messiah. There were no kingly halls prepared nor were there any courtiers to wait upon the Christ’s every need.
Instead, the long-expected One walked among the socially unacceptable: tax collectors, lepers, the poor, Samaritans, and sinners. Then, He suffered and died on a cross–death reserved by Rome for criminals.
Christmas reminds me that God’s ways frequently don’t make human sense.
Of course, God’s people had missed a significant part of God’s plan. Although Isaiah had described the “suffering servant” (Isaiah 53), Yahweh’s children understandably favored Biblical passages that identified Messiah as conquering king (Isaiah 9:6).
Yet, both paths are essential to Abba’s plan.
As Lewis wrote allegorically, Aslan must die in place of Edmund, the traitor.
But the Gospel didn’t end there: Messiah overcame death
Desire fulfilled brought a tree of life to all those who believe.
Because of Christ’s resurrection, the enemy’s icy grip did not hold. Narnia’s snow began to melt. Hope dawned.
The crown of thorns precedes the crown of glory.
In fact, God’s initially incomprehensible plan enabled our long-term best.
For this reason, while cold winter may temporarily shroud this world, God’s gift brings us this promise: “momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Such is our confidence.
So it is that when winter’s storms mingle with tears or an avalanche of disappointment threatens to bury hope, Christ reaches out with His scarred hand to pull us from life’s cold, snowy drifts.
And He utters some of the most beautiful words ever heard: “My child…”
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich,” ~2 Corinthians 8:9
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” ~2 Corinthians 9:15
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God…” Ephesians 2:8