This year I have so many who are close to me are facing serious health issues, some are dealing with the impending death of a loved one, some have lost jobs, some are lonely from lost or strained relationships. Even at Christmastime, sometimes especially at Christmastime, life is hard.
Why does it have to be hard at Christmas? That is the mystery I ponder, and as I do, I think about these words from Wrestling with Wonder:
Christmas, Mary, and the God of Mystery:
I Don’t Know.
Scary words. I don’t like to speak them. I don’t like to write them. I don’t like them at all. Instead, I much prefer:
It makes sense.
I have the answers.
But the reality of life often is:
I don’t know.
I don’t understand.
It doesn’t make sense.
I don’t have the answers.
I cringe away from admissions like that. I want my world to make sense. I want explanations and reasons and a carefully constructed theology where all the i’s are diligently dotted and all the t’s carefully crossed.
I don’t want mystery.
And yet God is a God of mystery. He often refuses to explain himself and instead woos me to that uncomfortable in-between place where things don't make sense and I don’t have it all figured out.
He beckons me there, and asks me not to understand, but instead to ponder.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is the God who calls me to live in the tension between faith and works, between a loving God and a broken world, between justice and mercy. He calls me to wrestle with my questions, dance with my doubts, and live with not understanding all the whys and wherefores and what-does-it-all-means.
He calls me to ponder as he offers no easy answers, no pat theologies, no simple explanations to put on the bumper stickers of my life.
He beckons me to live with mystery -- the mystery of a Messiah in a manger.
Mary pondered the mystery of her God when scruffy shepherds showed up looking for an infant lying where the animals feed. She pondered as they told a strange story of singing angels who visited not a newborn messiah, but a bunch of sheep-herders in the fields. She pondered as they spoke. And she treasured the truths she could not yet understand.
May you embrace the mystery of a Messiah in a manger this Christmas!