A "Blue Christmas" message.
BELIEF, BALANCE, BLESSING
I imagine there will be a large number of Californians who will be glad to see 2018 come to an end. 2018 has been a record-setting year in a tragic way, the most destructive year on record for wildfires in that state. Just last month, strong winds caused a round of large fires across the state. The Camp Fire, for example, killed at least 86 people and destroyed more than 18,000 structures. Damages total $3.5 billion.
Natural disasters like this are part of a long list of things that cause people sorrow. The California fires are an example of how sometimes our sorrows are caused by permanent things like death or temporary things like the loss of property. Sometimes these are the sorrows of others and they can feel remote; sometimes they fall directly on us or on those close to us.
The world feels broken, doesn’t it? Broken hearts wonder if there is any purpose, any good that will come from this pain.
God has given answers to our heart-cries. He has provided a fixed point. We aren’t meant to wander aimlessly, but to continue our journey. Surviving is hard. But survivors want and need to be sure the journey has a direction and is worth the effort.
The fixed point is belief. When sorrow threatens to overwhelm us it’s tempting to give up. Belief provides us with direction and inspiration to continue.
I am here to advocate for Jesus Christ as the fixed point of your belief. He endured a horrifying and undeserved death to offer you life and the power to live it. These are not merely words, but the testimonies of countless survivors like yourself, people who have found in Jesus enough life to continue on.
Keeping our eyes on Jesus, we are pointed in the right direction. After that, the pace of our journey and occasional detours are not a big deal. In fact, the biggest part of our journey is seeking a balance between our sorrows and our joys.
Balance is not a state of constant joy; it is not achieved by ignoring our hurts. Balance is found in patience with one’s self and with others. It comes in admitting that grief requires us to make things up as we go, settle for what works, and allow everyone to grieve in their own way, in their own time.
You won’t find balance by walking in someone else’s footsteps. It comes by taking the kind of stride you can in the moment, while keeping your face lifted and your eyes on Jesus. It may occasionally require you to stop and reorient yourself. It’s OK; this is an imperfect situation among imperfect people.
When you were a child, a pair of adult hands held you up so you could learn to walk. As an adult, you may become so dispirited you need another strong pair of hands. A balanced person knows when they need help and when they can be a helper. They know that there is no pride of shame in either of those roles. They seek balance whenever it is lost.
Do you right now feel “blessed?” If you don’t that’s OK. Just know, in the back of your mind and the innermost part of your heart, that you are blessed. The feeling comes and goes, as feelings do. Belief is a kind of knowledge that defies feelings.
As Job said in vs. 25-27, the ultimate blessing comes when we’re allowed to stop surviving in this world and start thriving in heaven. That promise ought to give comfort and motivate our surviving.
Blessings come in life before death. They may not come in the expected moments, like Christmas, but they are all around us. Some are tiny and ordinary, a little hard to see. Others are big, unusual; obvious. Belief is required to see blessings. Balance means we don’t live for the blessings, but we don’t to ignore them, either.
If right now the idea of being blessed feels very foreign, if balance sounds like trivia, if the idea of believing in God feels like some kind of disconnect from reality, know first that you are in good company. Know also that you are loved. Know that those feelings characterize the moment, but they don’t need to characterize your entire life. Know that you have partners to help you rebuild, restore, refuel, or whatever you need. The journey starts with belief. Along the way you retrieve your balance and experience a blessedness that would not be possible if your heart were not broken.