James 1: 2-4
A friend is traveling a similar path of grief this Christmas. For both of us, it is our first Christmas without our mothers being on earth.
However, she is having a harder time than me. She did not feel like decorating this year. She has felt the loss keenly. Christmas will likely be a bittersweet season for her.
It's a mysterious wonder how we humans can suffer and then grow from suffering. I am considering the perspective of the late Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, whose grief model I share in my book and video series, The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life. Kubler-Ross also wrote this:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
Beautiful people do not just happen. They accumulate wrinkles and warts and sorrows and joys, processing and repurposing them into something new and wonderful and able to be shared with others.
James, the brother of Jesus, refers to this kind of transformation in the Letter of James, 1: 2-4:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
"Let perseverance finish its work." That phrase sticks with me. We want suffering to be short. We want trials to be rare and fleeting. Of course, we do! And yet, as we are wriggling to get out of the trap of trouble, perhaps we need the realization that perseverance is not done. Perseverance must finish its work to create something new in us, something beautiful that we can share with others in the midst of their own crises.
I sat down today for coffee with a young friend I've known for nearly ten years, since his middle school days in my church's youth program. He graduated from college this year and has immediately encountered a volatile workplace that has caused the start of his career to be a rollercoaster ride. He's riding that coaster very well! But it certainly reminded me of my own rollercoasters, and I found myself wanting to share out of my hardships and discoveries. Someday he will share out of his.
We become beautiful people, beautiful servants of Christ, when we keep our faith in the midst of crisis and turmoil, persevere through it, and develop a maturity that gifts us with an understanding of life that fills us with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern. May it be so for each of us; may it be so for my grieving friend; may it be so for you!
Have a merry and blessed Christmas! Cecil
If you are in crisis, are just coming out of a crisis, or foresee a looming crisis, please consider The Next Thing. You can learn more and purchase the book or video series through my website at https://www.ceciltaylorministries.com/the-next-thing , as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Books and other online locations. I hope and pray that it will inform and bless you as it has done for others in its brief history.