He Will Come Again
By Rachel Davis
Five years ago, almost to the exact day, I found out news about my marriage that shattered everything I knew and believed and held dear in my life. Despair and hopelessness wrapped me tightly in a blanket and threatened to never let me go. I remember lying in bed at my parents’ house on Christmas day and my sister bringing food into me because the thought of moving and sitting at a table was too much to bear. My life felt hopeless.
This year, five years later, I have had so much joy this Christmas season as I have gone to Christmas parties, read Advent devotionals, and put up the Christmas tree with my fiancé and excitedly think about our next steps. But even in these moments during this season of great joy, there is an awareness of the deep pain of my past. What was and what I went through are a part of my story. They are a part of who I am now. At times it is a raw place, but it is also a sweet reminder of my journey with Jesus and how He has faithfully restored my heart and my joy.
Hannah Hurnard, in her book Hinds’ Feet on High Places shares the following,
“Something had happened in the wilderness which had left a mark upon her for the rest of her life. It was an inner and secret mark, and no one would have noticed any difference outwardly, but all the same, a deep inner change had taken place which indicated a new stage in her life.”
I never want that mark in my life to go away, because through it, I have known deep pain and suffering, but I have also known the beauty of redemption. My eyes and my soul are awakened to others who are in despair. I long to walk with them in their suffering and point them to the only One who can heal their hearts.
There is someone I greatly respect who is a survivor of sex trafficking. She so bravely shares parts of her story through blogs both to educate those who do not understand and to empower those who unfortunately do. I recently read a blog past of hers titled, When the Holidays Hurt, and was struck by the profound way she vulnerable shared words I needed to hear:
Walking through healing from abuse is an exceedingly lonely road, and anyone with a history of abuse will tell you that the holidays can be the darkest, most isolating days of the whole year. While the lights twinkle and the world rushes and spins wild and we are surrounded by “busy” and the lighthearted atmosphere of joy and giving and celebration, it can take us right back to those downright deadly feelings of existing in a vortex of silence and deafening isolation while the whole world just goes on, even more oblivious than usual. And I think those of us with family based abuse can especially struggle because the holidays are so centered around family. Many deep hurts lie here.
So now, while people around us talk of plans and traditions and relish memories of holidays past, we struggle to shove wave after wave of grief and pain and memories best left unremembered back down into our souls. We want to make new memories. We try to be happy – to be just like everyone else, just as we did during all those years of abuse. We practice gratitude. And we work so hard to follow the advice of counselors and work at forming new traditions to disempower the traditions of our pasts. And inside we scold ourselves for somehow just not being able to get it right.
While people talk about relatives coming to visit or of road trips to be taken to spend Christmas with loved ones, of their clear and joyful memories of Christmases past, we frantically try to hold back a flood of pain or tears, embarrassed that we have nothing to add to the conversation, and hoping no one will notice.
It’s Christmas time and the promise of Christ coming. Oh, He has come for me – many times this year. And He keeps coming for me. I keep sitting down in the darkness and trying to convince myself that this is all there is…and yet He keeps coming.
But I have not made it out of this dark valley yet. And I am well aware of the presence and pain of my fellow valley dwellers. I know some sisters who might need to be reminded that you are not alone in this holiday vortex. This, my friends, is my hand, reaching out for yours. We won’t be alone here in this valley of the shadow. We will wait – together – for Him to come for us. And we will know that even though we may feel invisible at times and like the pain might just swallow us whole right here, we are not alone, for He has allowed our paths to intersect, here – right here in this dark valley. And we are proof to each other that light can dawn, and it will dawn – right here – in the valley of the shadow of death, until it burns so bright that we can finally see the path out – for He has come, and He will come, and He will keep coming, to guide our feet unto the path of peace.
Will you be brave enough to look for it with me this year? To fight again, to live? We can do this together.
And friends? If your feet have found the path of peace through the valley of the shadow of death, would you do one thing? Would you not forget the ones He came for – the ones who have only ever known that valley? The ones who have not yet found the path of peace where you walk now. For it is easy to forget them as you hustle and bustle and plan and work so hard to make life in the light so grand. But they are there, in your midst, whether you notice them or not. They are the ones who are quiet while you chatter on about your grandparents and memories of Christmas past. They are the ones whose eyes won’t make contact while holiday road trips are being bemoaned and the nuisance of sharing space in close quarters with quirky relatives is the topic of the day. Could you be the one person who might notice them, sitting quietly in chains, invisible to most eyes? I promise you that they are in your midst. Would you ask Him to see with His eyes this Advent season? And would you open your heart and welcome one of these as your very own family this year, if He allows? (I)
That night when Jesus came into the world, we often think about the goodness of it – the beauty and the glory of the promised Messiah coming to redeem the world. But I wonder if that night also held fear and anxiety and possibly even moments of hopelessness. For this is how it is with our God. I believe the Father holds them both in His hands – He holds the pain AND the joy, and for both feelings, both seasons of life, he gives us the gift of Jesus-a Savior who would rejoice with us and over us in our times of joy, but also a Savior who would be our refuge and redeemer when our world falls apart.
So whether we are in a season of life marked by joy or marked by despair, in this Christmas season, may we welcome the gift of Jesus to walk with us where we are. For as my friend said, He has come, and He will come, and He will keep coming, to guide our feet unto the path of peace.
(I) stones cry, When the Holidays Hurt, https://stonescry.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/when-the-holidays-hurt/