As we approach the beginning of the second week before Christmas, I like to think about who needs help. In the past, our children have needed help, and God has sent earthly angels to minister to them. Helping is not just about money, or the holidays, or about toys, or about clothes. I think about those who may need a kind word, a smile, a hug, or just affirmation about their feelings.
I think about Psalms 4:4: In your anger do not sin; when you are on your bed; search your heart and be silent (Paraphrase mine).
Silence. That is a very difficult command to obey. If I have nothing else, I always have more words. Words can hurt. I know that intimately. I do not come from a family, where words were carefully weighed. Words were weapons, and not much else. The hardest thing for me, was that I actually thought of a response. It would have been the simplest thing to slaughter someone with a single sentence. I can't say that I wasn't tempted. I was. I also can't say, that I always held my peace. That would be a lie. But I can say that hurtful words were difficult for me to say, even in anger. When I saw the look of hurt in another's eyes, it would devastate me, and I would feel guilty for years. So, for my own peace of mind, for my physical and mental health, and for a more intimate walk with the Lord, I learned to hold my peace.
One day, long ago, I heard the voice of God, in my heart. He said to me: "Someone has to love. Someone has to forgive," and His loving pressure on my heart made me agree, "it might as well be me." That was the day that I began to surrender my will to His. That was the day that I began to understand just what compassion is. You see, I began to understand that compassion doesn't begin with a donation. Compassion begins with a changed heart, which translates into love.
Not everyone can go out and do. I can't, because my health is tenuous. I can't go to nursing homes, as I would like to do. I can't go to Africa and be a missionary. There are many things that I cannot do.
But I can say "thank you; you have blessed my life."
I can uplift.
And I can not hold a grudge.
There are those who are reading this, who suffer from depression, anxiety, loneliness, isolation, and many other afflictions, that can't readily be seen. I just want you to know, that the day you make it out of bed, and into the shower, is a triumphant day. The day you give your spouse a smile, instead of a sigh, is a day for celebration. You see, every journey begins with a single step.
When I was suffering from depression, I wrote to God, just as I am writing to you. Here is part of what I wrote:
"I walk through this day, because of You, Lord.
No personal power of my own gets me out of bed and onto my knees.
You are the One Who gives me the desire to look up,
To open my eyes,
To push myself up off of the floor.
By Your strength I walk.
By Your grace, I keep going.
When I stumble, You catch me in Your arms,
And when I fall, You carry me."
(Excerpt "Because of You" Copyright Jaye Lewis, 2002)
There is not a day that goes by, that I believe I can take a single step, without leaning on the One who is my strength. He is forever in my heart. His love is beyond any love I have ever had. I live each day, one day at a time. Depression, bi-polar, and mania run in my family. And no one can push my buttons quite like a relative can. So, I will leave them alone. I've done all the contacting I'm going to do. However, I can feel compassion. I can keep silent. I can let them live or die by their own sword, figuratively speaking. You see, nothing cuts like an unkind word. Nothing wounds quite like knowing someone's weakness, and then using that against them. And nothing destroys us, quite like our own words against others. Evil, you see, destroys itself.
Again, I know I'm blessed. I have a most wonderful husband. I know what it feels like to be cherished every day of my life. I have wonderful daughters. I know what it is to be honored by my children. I know their devotion. And I know their beauty, which shines through their eyes, from their remarkable souls.
I know what it is to have a relationship with Christ; to honor Our Father in heaven. I also know what it is like to try Him; to turn away; and I know what it is to repent, and to be forgiven. How can I not love a God like that? So, this Christmas season, I want to celebrate the Babe of Bethlehem. I want to celebrate His Divinity. I want to celebrate His humility as a Man, and His power, as God Himself. I also want to celebrate His Jewish roots. Remember, Jesus said, that He came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. So, this Christmas, I want to remember Israel, God's land, and God's people.
At the same time, I have many Muslim and Hindu friends. I have a deep respect for them, in all their diverse humanity. I have agnostic and atheist friends, and I do appreciate our mutual respect for one another.
So, here I am, a child of God, in submission to Christ, celebrating His birth, His sacrifice, and His love. But I must have compassion for those who suffer in this season. I must have compassion for the lost and hurting. I must have mercy for someone besides myself, and for those who are not easy to love. Some may be dangerous to be near, but that is okay. I can pray for them; and I can wish them no harm, even if they wish harm to me.
I belong to Jesus, and I cannot tell you what that means to me. Why did He remember me on the Cross? Why did He choose Me? Who am I that my Lord should even notice me? So, for His great love, and to honor Him, I can have compassion for others; and in my heart, because of Him, I can forgive.
Sweet Lord of my life. I am unworthy of You, but I will celebrate You every day of my life. And when I see my sin, I will repent, and ask for Your forgiveness, knowing that You will forgive, not because of what I am, but for Who You are.
With all my love,