Saturday, December 13, 2008

True Worship = Suffering

The following excerpt is from Mary Beth Chapman's blog. She and her husband (Steven Curtis Chapman) have lived a very public grief this year. Her words are inspiring and, I believe, the truest of worship.

As I anticipate Christmas 2008, I have many thoughts flying through my heart and head. The last several days, my mind has not been able to stop thinking about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Pregnant and scared, knowing that the baby she was carrying eventually would pay the ultimate price of His life. How would I have lived differently if I knew that my time with Maria was going to be this short? Regretfully, I would have lived much differently. I would have purposely hugged and kissed more. I would have tried to memorize and lock away in my heart certain smells and smiles. I would have colored more and worked less. I would have laughed more and fussed less. Bedtime wouldn’t have become a chore to check off the list of things to get done. Instead it would have been more of an opportunity to listen about the day and offer whatever words were needed. The swimming pool wouldn’t have been too cold to swim in. The flowers in the garden would have all been picked, and definitely more ice cream would have been consumed!

I wonder what it was like for Mary after her son’s death. I know she saw him resurrected and was certain of the fact that she would she him again, but she was still his mom. Mary found favor with God; therefore she was chosen to be Jesus’ mom. But because God favored Mary, she was also chosen to suffer. Not just at the crucifixion, but her whole life. She was chosen to carry a baby in her womb, be persecuted and give birth in a dirty stable. Most of the time at Christmas we end the story there…. in the stable, with Mary, Joseph and Jesus receiving their company. Wise men, shepherds, and angels - you get the picture in your head right? The star, the animals, the Nativity! What about the rest of it? Mary, mothering the Son of God! She was human, she had a baby, and she raised that baby with the heaviness that she was to see him suffer and thus she too would suffer. I think when Mary was hiding things in her heart; it was a lot more than the reality of whom she carried in her womb. I am certain that she was hiding away the memories of first smiles and steps, as well as the first tears and tumbles. Knowing what was to come, did Mary have the opportunity to live differently as a mom to her little boy? I believe she did. I am sure that she watched him differently, taught him differently, and prayed differently. I can only imagine the discussions that she and Joseph would have when their son wasn’t listening, how they probably begged God to let the cup pass from them, but in the end yielding up the prayer we all hesitate to pray when it comes to our children…. Your will be done. UGGHH!!!! I don’t want to. I didn’t want to on May 21st, and I still don’t want to now. Yet somehow we did, and somehow we will continue to. I am reminded more than ever this Christmas, that it doesn’t end at the Nativity in Bethlehem in a cozy manger… it is a journey all the way to the cross on the hill in Golgotha on Good Friday.

Christmas for the Chapmans this year represents suffering. For that matter, from here on may we always remember that it represents the ultimate suffering that came. But isn’t it amazing that it is called GOOD Friday? Why is it good if it is full of suffering? Because Easter came on Sunday and what Satan intended for evil, God intended for GOOD! Christmas ultimately ends at Easter and the reality that we will see Maria again! If we are to live as Christ, then we will suffer like Christ. I am thankful this Christmas more than ever for Easter. When all the questions I have will be answered and all the tears I have will be wiped away. Until then, Merry Christmas with the reality that Easter came and all of this suffering will some day be gone in a moment, and all things will become new and right and awesome!

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