Thank you for taking the time to reflect on “My Suffering Is a Blessing” with us this holy season. It is a privilege to be on the receiving end of your thoughtful words (so much so that we are tempted to host more writing contests throughout the year), and we greatly appreciate your participation in such ventures. It truly is an honor to read your submissions.
We’d like to share five posts with you this week, starting today with a post written by our contest winner, Heidi Dawn Sias. Congratulations, Heidi, on winning a free copy of He Remembers the Barren, and thank you for allowing us to share your words of wisdom and encouragement below.
Your HRTB Hosts
It’s that time of year again: a time for gifts, a time for family gatherings, a time for Christmas cookies, a time for singing carols, a time for New Year’s parties, and a time for children, as they have “visions of sugar-plums” dancing in their heads…whatever that means. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? It’s so much fun to watch children’s eyes light up when they see the lighted Christmas tree with gifts strewn beneath it, and welcome another New Year with hearts full of hopes and dreams. But what about families struggling to make ends meet; what about families who can’t be together; what about families who have lost someone this past year; what about the twenty families in Connecticut who will look at the gifts they bought for their children this year with tears streaming down their face; what about the family in our community here who eagerly awaited their newborn daughter to arrive around Christmas but attended her funeral instead; what about our friend’s extended family member with six-month-old twins, who lost one twin to SIDS just four days before Christmas; what about my sister-in-law whose one-year-old son died one month after Christmas last year after spending his entire life in the hospital; what about me….entering my final child-bearing years and still without a child of my own to hold? These things hurt deeply and we ask, “why?” We might begin to look at the New Year with anxiety wondering what will happen next. Sometimes this time of year reminds us even more of the suffering we’ve endured instead of being the most wonderful time of the year.
But Christmas is about Jesus. It’s not about sugar-plums. Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. That’s Christmas. That’s what we celebrate. That little baby came to take on my burdens and to die on a cross. That little baby is my comfort in suffering. My suffering draws me back again and again to the foot of the cross, weary and weeping. Jesus lifts up my head and points me back to His manger, back to His cross, and says, “I did that for you.” He calls me to himself and says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) I can rejoice in my suffering “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Rom. 5:3–5) It’s a perplexing phrase: “rejoice in my sufferings.” But I can, because in the end suffering gives me hope. Hope in Christ, the only Hope. Of course, I cry in my sufferings too, but I can still rejoice in knowing God’s love has been poured into my heart. He has made promises that I can count on. He weeps with me, wipes away my tears, and says, “come to me so I can comfort you.” I receive Him in faith, I rest in Him, and I cling to the promises He gives me in His Word; promises of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Hope for a future with Him. Jesus came for me. Jesus came for you. That’s worth celebrating no matter what sufferings we endure. It’s worth celebrating at Christmas, and it’s worth celebrating all year round. My suffering is a blessing because it points me to Christ, and He is all I really need.
Heidi Dawn Sias