photo by Alondra Olivas
Is Thanksgiving trying for you? Are you headed into the holiday bumfoozled or bewildered? May I offer something for you to consider? Even if no one around you understands, you're not alone.
Maybe you are filled with dread as everyone you love (and try to love but want to strangle) gets together. Maybe the most popular dish at your family table is dysfunction.
Jesus too. Before he even began His ministry, He went to a wedding with His mom. She shamed Him into a miracle He wasn't ready to make. It must have been embarrassing for Mary to be so controlling when He was 30 years old. And His brothers accused Him of being a big, fat, phony once He was ready and rolling. When it came time for his family to gather in another town for a Jewish holiday, His brothers teased Him relentlessly about his miracles. He couldn't please his crazy family no matter what He did.
Maybe you are feeling betrayed or lost because a relationship you trusted and relied on has ended.
Jesus too. As He walked into the final, harrowing part of His human life, His most trusted friends abandoned, denied, and betrayed him. I shudder at the loneliness He was willing to endure to establish our freedom.
Maybe you are lonely because the ones you love can't or won't come home. You wonder (or regret) what went wrong.
Jesus too. When He approached Jerusalem for His last holiday, He paused outside the city and was overwhelmed with grief. He cried because His love had been rejected. He would do anything for them, except violate their free will. He simply had to let them choose their own way. It must have ripped his human heart in two.
Maybe you are grieving because this holiday brings about tremendous despair as you think of seasons and loved ones gone by.
Jesus too. His cousin John was brutally beheaded in the prime of his life and ministry. Jesus was elbow deep in work when He got the devastating news. He jumped in a boat to get away from everyone. But still people chased after him. I can only imagine how overwhelming that had to be.
Maybe you are pining. Maybe you cannot be with those you love because duty and circumstances have you elsewhere. Maybe they understand, but maybe they don't.
Jesus too. His best friend was dying and He did not get there in time, because of His commitments. People blamed and shamed Jesus for the death of His friend. I can't fathom how painful that must have been.
Maybe you are frustrated by people and plans pulling at you from every direction. Maybe you can't seem to catch your breath or a break.
Jesus too. He healed and fed and taught and gave and the crowds demanded more. They were never satisfied, saying "Show us miraculous signs if you want us to believe in you!" Jesus, worn out with their requests, reminded them of all He had already done. Yet, they wanted more. I think I would have called them ungrateful shits (but then I remember what an ungrateful shit I can be).
Maybe you are struggling because your search for gratefulness comes up empty. Maybe life just feels so desperately unfair that you want to cancel the whole affair.
Jesus too. He knew His torturous fate and begged God to change it. When God did not, Jesus felt forgotten. It's hard to admit, but sometimes I feel forgotten. Especially when the things I want most and work hardest for don't happen like I planned.
Jesus knows where and why it hurts- Less so because He is God, and more so because Jesus left His divine post to take up your pain and mine. He gave up everything to walk in my shoes and yours. He moved out of heaven so he could move into your heart and mine.
If you find yourself hurting this holiday season, you are not alone in your anger or fear or sadness or suffering. In the deep quiet you can hear Jesus whisper, "Me too. I know and I'm with you." Even if you feel doubt, take a moment to stop and listen to His promise, "Be sure of this: I am with you always..."
Here is a simple prayer you can carry with you during these days.
"Lord Jesus, I love you. And I trust you. I am grateful that you are here with me. I am thankful that you know what it's like to be in my shoes. I know I'm not alone. Please let me see things from Your perspective. Please give me Your peace. Thank you, Jesus, Amen."
If you know someone who is having a hard time this holiday, consider sharing this post and prayer with them. Your love and concern might be the balm they need.
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