Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sorrow vs. Joy

Are you having trouble justifying the Joy of the Season since the Connecticut tragedy? The timing is insanely cruel and makes me feel like I’m “singing songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20).

So I’m postponing the Jolly Christmas Blog Hop planned for today. It’s hard to share Christmas memories when I know that Christmas will be so different for so many forever.

But I won’t belabor the horror of last week’s tragedy. Instead, as an educator and parent, I offer a grateful thank you to those who gave everything to protect their students. I commend those who huddled in closets and bathrooms, spreading wings of comfort over their young charges as death lurked nearby.

And I weep for the children who dance today in heaven’s light.

Why” is the big question. But even with what is known, the answer brings no comfort. There is hope only in knowing “Who,” and peace in recognizing “What.”

We can know Who now holds those little ones in His arms, and we can find purpose by deciding what we will do now because of them.

Last Sunday our pastor reminded us that similar tragedy accompanied the first Christmas. Two thousand years ago, a mentally-deranged leader ordered the murder of baby boys because he feared the one Babe predicted to be king.

It’s a side of the nativity we rarely consider—the wails of women who lost their innocent children to a maniacal murderer named Herod.

Maybe our crèches should have a scowling man lurking in the shadows beyond the star’s light, the pastor said.

How can we declare joy in the face of Newtown’s sorrow?

How can such opposite emotions coexist?

We may not understand the reason, but we can be assured that they do. The gift of God’s light to the world conquers the darkness of sin. The hard part is living now in the divine tension—the tug of war between good and evil.

And so our pastor lit the Advent candle for Joy.

We must not forsake rejoicing because of the sorrow. To numb our hearts to the joy is also to numb ourselves to the pain. And we cannot let those who mourn cry alone.

This Christmas, may we step up to the light with both sorrow and joy in our hearts. Let us bring comfort to those within our reach and beyond. And may we, as the scriptures declare, “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”