I can't get this line from the old Christmas carol out of my head. It's been a decent year at the Ryan house and for that I am thankful. We have had great moments as a family, wonderful memories and everyone is thriving. We are blessed and this year, I am more than aware of how much.
The news is full of mall shootings, school shootings, murder and horrors that have parents guarding their children from the television and headlines. The world is fallen. It doesn't make it less horrific to witness and my heart hurts for the tragedies that cover newspaper fronts and pop onto the computer screen each time the internet turns on.
Sadly, sometimes it is easier to remove myself from something I read about or see on TV. It is less "real". I know it is reality and, as I mention, my heart still hurts, but there is a distance there for me. However this season, there are other happenings closer to home, not so far removed, that have my heart heavy. It was a year where many in our lives have been dealt blows that there is just no response for, no advice to be given, no platitude to encourage them forward. Just tears to be shed and a vow to hit my knees and pray that God would indeed show himself as the God of all comfort.
Friends who lost their beloved 4 year old daughter tragically and unexpectedly. A three year old little boy, who calls me auntie, diagnosed with type one diabetes...a life long disease, so unpredictable and hard to manage, let alone in a little boy who doesn't understand why he is suddenly poked, prodded and pricked daily, hourly...forever. A dear friend's "other family" tragically struck by a fallen tree and leaving dead parents and 4 kids hospitalized right before Christmas. And my friend's family at the hospital on rotation trying to be the support these kid's parents were supposed to be.
To be honest, there are a few more things I could add to this list and sometimes I feel almost guilty for the year we have had. Though there are days I feel challenged, it is nothing in comparision to the load carried by these friends.
And so I do my best to walk along side my friends on their journey. No words...just hands, willing to hold, help up if necessary, and to pray. To pray for strength, comfort, encouragement, peace, courage, healing. To pray for all the things that seem impossible, all the things I can't be, but God can. Because fortunately, He excels in impossible. And when I get weary, feeling so useless and unable to help amidst all this tragedy this is what gives me a thrill of hope...that I serve a God who says, "With me, all things are possible."
Does this mean it will all be fixed? All get better? No. Does it mean the hurting and anger has stopped? No. Does it stop the "whys"? No. But it does mean that God can do what He intends to do...and what He intends to do is offer redemption to the world through the birth of His Son. The broken, tired and weary ...those that mess up time and time again, who fall into despair, and who are enduring the consequence of sin in this world. He offers redemption and hope. He offers to come be the strength, comfort, encouragement, peace, courage and healing we need while living in this weary world. And so this season, I am holding my family tighter, looking at the lights more somberly and humming along...trying to remember there is a reason to rejoice, " For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn"