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Sorrow Is Part of Christmas, Too

Spiderman painting

He didn’t know this visit would hurt. He didn’t know to ask if they would pinch or poke him. He bounced into the hospital in his Spiderman costume, looking for stickers and suckers, knowing just how to wrap people around his little finger with charm.

I knew what lay ahead for my son.

My heart broke as I wrapped my arms tightly around him, pinning his arms down. His father lay on his legs so he couldn’t squirm away or kick. All of us soaked with his sweat as he screamed in anger and fear and pain as two nurses worked to get the slim needle into an even slimmer vein.

Three times in the space of an hour we did this.

I don’t allow myself to think about what my children go through very often. The grief crushes, and in the end, it doesn’t change anything.

The reality is that two of my four were born with serious heart defects. They were born into a life of hospitals, blood draws, ultrasounds, EKGs, chest xrays, and surgeries. A life of pain. And scars.

We’ve heard a cardiologist deliver crushing news about our child’s heart twice. With our youngest, we were offered the option of “termination.” We interrupted before he could get all the words out. No.

Our child’s life and death aren’t ours to control. We walk the road laid before us until it ends. We walked it with Ellie, we would do it again with this little boy, despite our fear. Despite our own broken hearts.

Yesterday, the doctor told us our son’s new stent had created normal blood flow to his lungs. I hadn’t dared to hope to such a Christmas gift.

Last night we were home. It was all over, and I could think finally about Advent, about the strange unexpected path our Lord took to rescue us. The thought broke over me like an egg cracked open into a pan.

God knew what His Son faced before He was born. God knew the pain He would endure. The scars.

He knew the sorrow Mary would experience as she watched this baby’s life, and His death.

God watched as Jesus walked the road that led to rejection, suffering, and death. Our God knows from experience how difficult it is to see your child in pain.

An all-powerful ever-present Spirit controlling all of Creation is fearful. Unapproachable.

A God-man with a body, with human-life experience, with scars… He is a being I can talk to, have confidence that I am understood, Someone from whom I can know I receive mercy.

We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help. (Hebrews 4:13-14, The Message)

This year, this Advent, I unwrapped the sorrow of the Incarnation.

God knows my pain, just as He knows my son’s.

But in the midst of this sorrow, He promises this:  “in all things God works together with those who love him to bring about what is good.”


This post is part of the December “Unwrapping Jesus” faith jam hosted by Bonnie at the Faith Barista. Please click the link to read her post and the other submissions this week. I promise you will be encouraged!


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