Christmas tears

December 25, 2006 at 10:13 pm Leave a comment

On Wednesday, my cat was diagnosed with kidney disease. From his heaviest at about 12 lbs, my darling kitty had dropped to a meager 6.5 lbs, mere skin and bones.

The last few days have been rough. He’s been visibly ill, unable to rest very well, sometimes unable to eat or drink. My loyal companion for over 11 years, my faithful friend for fully half my life, is dying.


dscn0360.jpgIt is awkward to deal with death at Christmastime. Death, disease, sickness—these don’t fit in with the lyrics streaming from the radio about Christmas cheer, about people laughing and children pressing their noses against frosty windowpanes, about this being the most wonderful time of the year.

I don’t feel joyful. Christmas this year is anguish-tainted, marred by reminders of a whole creation that groans under the weight of an unbearable curse (Rom. 8:20). It is hard to think about celebrating in the face of this suffering. It is hard to think of singing “glory to God in the highest” when I’m facing the loss of a pet I love dearly. Suffering doesn’t fit at Christmastime.


This is the way it feels, anyway. But more objectively, there is perhaps no season more relevant to sufferers than Christmastime. After all, this is the season in which we memorialize the miracle of the incarnation, the coming-down-of-God-to-earth.

We sing about Christ’s birth as if it were a purely joyous occasion; we tend to imagine the event as trinket manger scenes depict it, as sanitary and serene and picture perfect.

But this is wrong. The incarnation meant God giving up the glories of heaven, descending to this smelly, sin-ridden world, and wrapping Himself in the blood and sweat and messiness of humanity.

This was hardly a cheery event. Rather, the incarnation represents God’s choice to embrace our suffering, to live among us and as one of us in an angst-ridden world gone awry.

dscn1738.jpgAnd this is precisely why Christmas is so profound: God does not stand distant from our suffering, but involves Himself in our pain. Suffering is not alien to Christmas, nor is God alien to our suffering. In the act that separates Him from all other gods, He became Emmanuel, God with us. God with us in our suffering.

It still hurts to face the death of one I love. But because of Christmas, I can still rejoice.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Why I’m not an evolutionist: Reason #2 Why I’m not an evolutionist: Reason #3

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profile.jpgI am working on my M.A. in Religion at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Besides having a big interest in theology, history, ethics, and the deep stuff of life, I am also very fond of Mediterranean food, snow, and the color red.

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