Post By: Katie M. Reid
My friend walked through the grocery store with her eyes down and shoulders slumped. She was having a hard day and it showed.
A woman from church saw her and asked, in a seemingly patronizing way, “Are you struggling?”
My friend felt like the woman’s question, laced with pity, was suggesting that it was not Christlike to be struggling.
Listen, we all have hard days and hard seasons.
It would be a lie to answer with an, “I’m fine” during those times.
But sometimes we mask our pain because we fear:
1. The other person won’t care.
2. They won’t know what to do with our hurt.
3. They don’t seem like a safe place to share.
4. We don’t want to burden them or overshadow their happiness.
But life is plain hard sometimes and we need one another to stand up when the waves of circumstance threaten to capsize us.
Just the other day several friends and I were swapping some good news. One of our friends bravely admitted that she was struggling with bouts of sickness with her kids, but she didn’t want to rain on everyone’s parade. She definitely shared in our happiness yet, instead of saying, “I’m fine too”, she was honest with how she felt.
I was grateful for her authenticity, it actually strengthened our friendship—knowing that she wouldn’t lie or put up a front that everything was okay when it wasn’t.
Just because you are struggling to find joy does not make you a weak Christian.
Look at all the biblical greats who struggled with various things like unbelief, temptation, jealousy, fear, anger, etc.
Sure, Christ wants us to have victory and count it all joy, (see James 1:2-4) but that doesn’t mean we have to put on a Pollyanna plastic smile and pretend that everything is okay, when it’s not.
The holiday season can fill us with moments of wonder and worship yet also remind us of loss and pain.
It’s as if our senses are more acutely aware of both our blessings and brokenness this time of year.
Think of the conflicting emotions felt during that first Christmas season long ago.
I am sure that Mary experienced the loss of her reputation when the naysayers discovered that she was pregnant. Then, months later—great with child—she rode on a donkey, not in comfort but on a bumpy journey away from home.
Yet, in her struggle with pain, she was carrying the Good News, the long awaited One, who would bring lasting hope to a hurting world.
Even in the dark there is light. There is hope in the struggle, but that doesn’t minimize our pain.
I doubt that God shouted to his bond-servant, “C’mon Mary, suck it up sister. You’re swollen with the Savior yet there’s no time to complain about your pain.”
God was with her as she labored and He loved her no less in her messy state.
The Good News should cause us to rise up and celebrate but that does not mean we have to be super-human or deceitful and pretend that nothing discourages us.
The super-human Savior, both God and man, came to us in our struggling state and loved us so much that He took on more pain that we will ever experience.
Whether you are struggling or soaring this season, know that you have an empathetic Emmanuel who is with you and for you.
He doesn’t scold you in the shopping aisle, He nods with understanding as you unwrap your feelings and let Him in—even to those untidy corners of your heart.
Thank You Jesus that You love us so well. Even when we are falling apart You hold us together with Your strong arm. You are the Hope of the Ages. Help us to rest in Your embrace and to live bravely, whether we are happy or sad. Thank You that You are patient with us—not condescending. Oh how we need you, this day and for all time. Lift up our heads and may we magnify You—the One laid in manger, killed on cross and resurrected in victory. You are the best gift of all. Amen.
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Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children (and one on the way) and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com.