Spirit {Christmas and New Year 2015: Musings on Suffering}



Lately suffering to me has been very cold weather, freezing floors, very loud snoring (LOL!) and clothes that are more suited for summer than for winter. Traveling to China and experiencing winter for the first time made me realize, more than once, how Filipinos who live in shanties, the homeless and even the poor here in China manage the cold, rain and storms. Add to that being away from home, and I would often find myself wishing I was back in familiar territory, with its warm evenings, Christmas carolers who sing for 5 seconds, sunny skies and the company of my family and friends, two and four-legged alike. 

I know the title of this blog post doesn't evoke the tiniest bit of Christmas spirit but as I 'suffered' through the cold and loneliness and complained incessantly about it to my long-suffering husband, I was constantly reminded of the suffering that had to happen before we could celebrate Christmas as we know it. On the first Christmas there were no lights, no carols, no thick  scarves and  colorful sweaters, no adorned trees surrounded by lavish gifts. There was a smelly manger, a woman who labored, probably scared and in so much pain, in the cold (I don't think there were heated stables back then) and a husband who probably was at his wit's end trying to deal with a delivery while surrounded by livestock. It's so unlike the comfortable, warm and cozy Christmases that we have. And that was only the beginning. To think that there was nothing comfortable nor lavish about the life that that baby was going to live, but instead a life full of suffering. And He went through all of that for me. *sigh* It boggles my mind. 

So as we bought groceries I looked for something to bring that Christmas spirit to our home. Alas, Chinese stores do not stock up on Nativity scenes and we had to make do with a tiny, tabletop Christmas tree. It was far from what I had in mind, but I saw the star and I guess it would have to do. At least, it reminded me of the star that led the wise men to the stable, the star that says, even if the world sat unknowing of this birth, the heavens knew, and there, a great celebration was happening--

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God
and saying, 
“Glory to God in the highest, 
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 
Luke 2:11–14

In heaven, there was joyful celebration, because it was finally happening, this child was going to be born and the prophesy of salvation, through suffering, was going to be fulfilled!!! Mind boggling moment again! This put my 'suffering' into perspective and made me realize how blessed I am, tiny puny me, to be the reason why all that suffering had to take place--me, in a heated apartment, bundled up with two scarves, thick socks and the heater on full blast, while complaining about the sorry state of my life.

And so, I look back and thank God. For suffering. For love. For grace. For faithfulness. For pain. Because He suffered so much more for me. And even though 2015 has been full of pain, joy, love and everything that I can't put a name on mixed in, I saw His hand through it all, probably even clearer this time. So here's to a new year, a 2016 that will hopefully be filled more of Him and less, less and even lesser of me. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

A few snippets from our Christmas Eve.


Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit, Spirit

2 comments:

Kat said...

We all need constant reminders like this one, of what and who Christmas is really about. And with or without the tiny tree, I'm sure you celebrated more of the essence of the season than some others who had so much more.

Happy new year, JP and Joselle.

joselle said...

I hope you had a merry Christmas as well Kat. Happy New Year too!!!

 

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