Sometimes I want to ask Him why.
Why couldn’t it just be a happy story? I mean, every year we read it as that. Good news of great joy, right?
Yet, if I’m honest with myself, the Christmas story is laced with great pain.
And I just want to scream, why.
Why couldn’t Mary have had the baby without the scandal of being unwed?
Why a damp, rank stable for a hospital, and an inexperienced fiancee as midwife?
Why couldn’t they just move calmly to Nazareth instead of a desperate refugee escape to Egypt?
Why a massacre of children in Bethlehem, why couldn’t it just be a threat on only Him?
I mean, yeah. I know why. I know there’s spiritual battle and I know there’s authorities that choose evil over beauty, God-absent rather than God-With-Us. I know the humility of the King of the Universe and how He came to identify with our pain. Yeah, I can come up with all these good blog-post answers in my head. But that doesn’t answer my real questions, the screaming whys about my own heart.
Why couldn’t it just be a happy story? I mean, every year, I read my life as that. God fulfils dreams, right?
Yet, if I’m honest with the rest of humanity, my own story is laced with great pain.
And when I give myself the space, like on this muggy Australian Christmas night,
I just want to scream why.
Why does deciding to do DTS mean leaving all I love in New Zealand?
Why did going to Amsterdam mean carrying homesickness for Australia?
Why does getting what I want have to be entwined with such heartbreak?
Why did some dreams become vivid reality, while other dreams were smashed to smithereens?
I mean, yeah, I know why. I could give myself a lecture on counting the cost and explain with every loss there’s a far greater gain. I could go on this whole spiel how God is going to be with me in my mess and He will heal broken hearts. He does. That is not any less true. But sometimes, even statements that are “true” are not what we need.
Those moments when I’m in anguish? I don’t want an “A, B, C, or D, All of the above” answer. Do you? It’s Christmas, you’ve seen enough identical cookie cutters and gifts that “everybody” would
love. As humans we crave the personal, the thoughtful, the particular. So let’s ask for it.
Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
“Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears, harassed by my enemies?”
(Psalm 42:9-10, MSG)
Through all of this, I think that’s a good place to be. Slaves don’t ask their masters why, it’s rare that an employee at the bottom of the ladder grills the C.E.O. on why he does what he does. However, near the end, Jesus called the disciples friends. Not because it was a catchy word for a t-shirt, but because they knew what he was up to, and they were brave enough to ask him.
Am I close enough with him to ask my tough questions?
Well, it’s Christmas.
I can live in my old philosophy that the Christmas story is just a happy, sorrow-free one. I can live through this year’s Christmas Day in denial of my own pain.
Or I can realise that Jesus coming to the world was a mess.
God didn’t try to “hold it together” when heaven collided with earth.
Neither should we.