There are presents wrapped underneath my Christmas tree. There are sparkly lights all around town. Soft, familiar music plays in the stores and on our Pandora station at home. It’s Christmas. Peace on earth. Good will toward men.
I’m planning a menu. I’m drinking warm drinks. I’m reading my children Christmas books and the Christmas Story. They’re eating chocolate from their Advent calendars. They’re counting down to Christmas. They haven’t a care in the world.
And all the while there are people, even children dying on the streets of Aleppo.
I’m having some trouble reconciling the existence of these two worlds, tonight. This quiet, magical world with pretty lights and cozy blankets with this chaotic, deadly, dangerous world where violence and death reign. As I type, my toddler is dancing on the couch behind my back, eating a cookie and laughing. But I just saw a video of a boy in Aleppo who looked about my toddler’s age, with bloodstained hair and face, poking out his lower lip while a bleeding woman asked him repeatedly if he was okay. He just looked at her, lip stuck out. He said nothing but looked like he would lose it any moment. He look scared and terribly sad and something inside of me broke when I saw him. I wanted to scoop him up into my arms, just as I would my own son. I wanted to kiss him and clean him and tell him I loved him. I wanted to promise him he was safe. I wanted to promise him I would never let anyone harm him.
But there are promises I can’t keep. Not even to my own children. Not even at Christmas.
And my heart is breaking for Aleppo.
Jesus knew, even before the night He arrived on earth, that two worlds could exist at the same time. He knew He would bring both unity and division. He knew that blood would be spilled and lives would also be saved, on His account. He knew there could be tragedy and victory. He knew there could be both pain and hope.
He knew the turbulence He walked into when He traded Heaven’s glory for the lowliness of His human form on earth. He knew the state of the earth. He knew some people were wicked, angry, malicious, envious, conceited, dangerous, threatening and toxic. He knew the circumstances that would surround His own death. He knew the Earth was not a safe place- hadn’t ever been a safe place. Not even at Christmas. Not even when Christ came. God with us. God help us.
And yet? He came. For me. For you. For Aleppo. For all of us. He came for US.
He knew we were lost. Devastated. Broken. Discouraged. Afraid. Alone. Vulnerable. Defeated. He called us sheep without a shepherd- we wandered with no hope. And when He looked and saw us, He had compassion on us. He knew He was our only Hope. He KNEW we could only hope in Him. So He came and be-came Christ in us, the hope of glory.
He came to give us true hope in a world in which He knew we would have trouble, and pain, and hardship, and heartbreaking tragedy, and mind-blowing grief. He came to give us hope because He knew …
He knew our hearts and eyes would weep for Aleppo.
He knew the latest news would make us catch our breath and hold our hearts and ask God why? Why on earth? He knew we’d wonder how to reconcile a world where God sends His only Son for us but where people also suffer and cry and die in the streets.
Some days I feel so desperate, like I can’t catch my breath. Like there is just too much hurt in the world for anything I do to matter. But Jesus? He came anyway. He knew the state of things, He knew the state of hearts, He knew the cost, He paid the price. And He came anyway.
So I pray anyway. I love anyway. I believe anyway. I trust anyway. When the grief is almost too much to bear, I try to hold on anyway. When I can’t see a way or cling to a hope…
I try to hope anyway.
And He carries me. He carries you. He carries Aleppo. He carries us all.
And now it’s time we put some action to our prayers for Aleppo. We can’t sit cozy this Christmas, fail to acknowledge the existence of these two different worlds and ignorantly open presents when God wants to presence Himself right in the midst of the hurting. This week, the hubby and I are calling our local Lutheran Family Services to co-sponsor a refugee family. Maybe you’d like to do the same? Or read this post and take one or all of the suggestions. Spread some love? Spread some hope? I have a feeling it’s the beginning of a journey. Maybe for a lot of us.