Oppression is Dead; Embracing Peace This Christmas

Tragedies unfold each year pausing for nothing. Heartless shootings that result in lives lost with no cause. The Las Vegas Massacre. The Texas Chruch shooting.Those left behind consumed with grief which feels as if their hearts are being ripped out, no words can describe its depth.

Natural disasters devasting countless people. Leaving communities once thriving fighting to stay alive. Desperately trying to rebuild. Each natural disaster claiming lives. Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Irma. Wildfires in California.

Then the issue of human sin within the truth of Hashtag Me Too. Ugly, heartless sin which begs to be hidden. Revealing the horror humans are capable of. 

Of course, these few things are only the surface of the devastation surrounding us. Financial difficulties, abuse, and relationship issues add to the impact. Additionally, much devastation consumes us. Heartbreak, depression, anxiety, panic attack, grief, and personality disorders. Physical pain with relentless symptoms. Chronic illness which seems to never let up dictating life. 

The hardships are unending. The news reminds us of this often. Is there meaning in life? Any purpose in all the pain? One can even question if there is anywhere safe anymore. It is draining; sucking the joy from us. At times, we feel dead inside, nearly falling apart as the world caves in burying us. 

Where is the peace in all of this devasting chaos? 

The Christmas story is rooted in hardship and in devastating pain. It is not the simple nativity we see so often in our childrens Bible. None of it was easy emotionally or physically for the family of Jesus. It was a difficult journey of fear, anxiety, sadness, and confusion. God came as a helpless baby turning the world upside down. Ultimately, He overcame death by the work of the cross. We celebrate Christmas because of Easter. “Christmas is more than a story about sleigh bells jing-jing-jingling — Christmas is the beginning of the story where death itself gets killed.” God desperately wanted us to encounter true peace rooted in His love. 

_Merry Christmas in it_s original language means all oppression is dead._1

Christmas is the perfect reminder that we are all equal no matter the background, color, or education level we all have a sinful nature in desperate of a Savior. There is peace in the midst of the Christmas season, but it is not found in the lights or getting everything just right. Joy is not found in the decorations or the gifts. 

“God is so moved by our being entangled in suffering — that He moved Himself into our world and entangled Himself in the suffering with us. God with us”.  Peace begins with Christ in the middle of the devastation. It begins with pouring out your heart to Him in a lament. 

It’s not about reciting movie lines but being intertwined with the lines within the Holy Word. Being immersed and consumed by those living Words. “His glory in the highest runs down to meet us who are at our lowest, those left out in the field, those who’ve lost our flock, lost our way, lost our hope, His glory in the highest always runs down to meet us who are at our lowest.”

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We have peace in the anticipation of the work Christ is doing in our hearts this Advent season. Furthermore, it is rooted in the anticipation of Christ return. This peace consumes us when we intently make space for Christ in the midst of the hurry and allows us to put to death our worry. In doing so we cherish each moment and live an abundant life.

Living out peace this Christmas season requires us to extend compassion and grace to one another. “Let us listen to one another in the depths of our suffering and sadness — and  only speak words that make souls stronger.” Living each moment with a thankful heart. Living loved and loving others. 

 

*All Quotes By Ann Voskamp 

 

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Live Loved: Advent

 This is our fourth week of advent, which focuses on God’s love for us. In addition, our love for Christ and for others. God desires nothing more than your love.  He cherishes who you are today with all your imperfections. “The Eternal your God is standing right here among you, and He is the champion who will rescue you. He will joyfully celebrate over you; He will rest in His love for you; He will joyfully sing because of you like a new husband.” Zephaniah 3:17. God invites you in to have a deep personal relationship with Him. To live loved every day from here on out. God’s love for you surpasses human understanding it is that complex and beautiful.

The Christmas story is laced with love. Christmas points us to the cross where Jesus displayed His amazing love for us. Jesus lived loved in His ministry. God’s love is evident through Scriptures, creation, and our personal lives. “ This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins” 1 John 4:10.

An element of living loved, is giving love. Christ enables us to love others. You can give love from where you are today. You don’t need to be wealthy or healthy. You only need a willing heart to serve the Lord and to give love to others. He will surely direct your steps. He will deeply bless your words. A hug, words of encouragement, or praying with someone goes a long way.

Additionally, living loved is praise God with a thankful heart for the simple blessings in your life this advent. Worship Him as the shepherds did in the Christmas story with a sincere heart. Mary also praises the Lord for His favor, “My soul lifts up the Lord! My spirit celebrates God, my Liberator! For the Mighty One has done great things for me; holy is God’s name!” Luke: 1:46, 47, and 49.

As Christmas draws near find someone to give love to; someone to encourage. Practice living loved this week. You are a child of the one true King. Reflect on His amazing love, which is evident in your life. Remember times this year that you felt His love and praise His holy name. Consider how you can live loved this advent season as well as in the new year.

God,

We praise you for the gift of Your Son consumed with Your love. For His example of love. Thank you for loving us. Allow us to live loved no matter what events play out in our daily lives. Enable us to give love to others. Let us be a blessing to them. May our hearts forever sing Your praises. Bless these days leading up to Christmas. We love you, Lord.

Amen

Min Survival Guide

I apologize for disappearing for over a week, my final week of the semester was more demanding then I initially thought.  The past few days have left me weary in many ways. I am delighted to have sometime off, just in time to enjoy the beauty of the next few days.

I am excited to share a special Christmas season post, featuring a friend of mine. Together we racked our brains to give you a min Holiday Survival guide. I adore the Christmas season and every detail that consumes it. It is a time of beauty, a time to cherish, a time to be thankful, and a time to reflect. Compassion, love, and excitement fill the air. Despite my passion for the Christmas season things have drastically been altered do to my health. I have encounter many obstacles during this season.

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Hi! My name is Meena, I’m almost 18 and I also have chronic pain! I have had 6 back surgeries, I have a different back problem now called spondylolisthesis, fibromyalgia, polycystic ovary syndrome. I think that’s it. Ha. I don’t have many “hobbies” lately but I love to read and watch tv.

What’s your favorite Christmas tradition ?

Meena: My favorite Christmas tradition is watching the Christmas movies! My family and I love them.

Victoria: It is nearly impossible for me to select only one tradition that I favor over the others. Various events that I attend with my church family are dear to my heart. I adore the simple traditions with my family, such as baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, leaving a tray full of goodies outside for the animals Christmas eve, and decorating in general.

What’s the biggest challenge of being chronically ill during the Holidays?

Meena: The biggest challenge is having the energy to deal with all the activities. Thankfully I don’t have a big family and it’s just my parents, sister and I, so I don’t have to do too much!

Victoria: I have encountered new challenges this Holiday season due to POTS. Currently I am unable to be on my feet for more then 15 minutes at a time, which complicates basically everything. I am also having trouble singing.

How do you save spoons during the Holiday season?

Meena: I really haven’t learned how to save spoons yet. I just recently learned what it was and it’s made me think. I always push myself too much because I don’t want to disappoint anyone or make them upset.

Victoria: I am always on spoon saving mode. Anytime I am going out I prepare the night before. This includes packing my meds, any other medical stuff, getting out my outfit, make up, and deciding how I will do my hair. I try to sit while getting ready. Taking breaks while I am out is helpful as well. I try to adapt any activity I do. If I bake, I sit while preparing things.

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What does the Christmas season mean to you?

Meena:  Christmas has always been a time for joy to me. A time to celebrate with family and appreciate what you have in life. I haven’t been so positive these past few years though. Hopefully I can go back to those things.

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Victoria: Christmas is a season of giving, of reflecting, and cherishing those around you. To me the season overflows with the beauty of the gift that God so humbly  gave to us. We prepare our hearts to rejoice during this season.

What are your Christmas season survival tips?

Meena: I would definitely say try not to push yourself too much. I’m going to try that. Also, I would definitely have some pain relievers on hand for when you are in pain. Oh, and don’t forget to rest when you can!!

Victoria: Pace yourself, rest enough, and get sleep. Balance every thing. Eat right and take your meds. Prepare yourself for big events. Do not wait till the last minute for anything. Keep stress levels down. Cherish and enjoy every moment.

We want to hear from YOU! Share your holiday survival tips with us in the comments. Be sure to check out Meena’s blog: Beautyandpaindiaries.blogspot.com