The hissing of the oxygen concentrator is steady, and lulls my mother-in-law to sleep. I slip in and pull the sheet over her shoulders and turn off the light. Then lying down in my bed, the monitor in both our rooms in the “on” position, I hear the machine’s hissing, and also her breathing and frequent cough. I whisper a prayer for her comfort and a good night’s rest for her. These are the sounds of Christmas in the parsonage this year.
Some say, “What a terrible time to have a loved-one so sick, here at Christmas.” I’ll admit that Christmas in the parsonage is usually filled with a different kind of activity – the celebratory kind. It would include parties, a hot oven putting out all kinds of confectioneries, and a calendar crammed more full than a New York subway at rush hour.
I also admit that this year will be a different sort of Christmas in the parsonage. Already it hasn’t been the normal routine of Christmas movies, cantatas, drives through the country to see the lights, or even baking sugar cookies with colored sprinkles. Instead it’s been about giving our time to my mother-in-law, who has little time left. It’s not been about what I want for Christmas, but about what she needs. Instead of harried schedules, we find ourselves taking time to sit and chat, to ask questions of her, for our own memory’s sake. “Remind me again how you and Dad met.” “Tell me about the day you trusted Christ as your Savior.” We talk about heaven, the things we know from Scripture, and the things we imagine will be waiting for us there. We sing, we read, we laugh, we cry.
It is for all this and all other kinds of suffering that our Savior came. He was born a babe in a manger in order to give us hope for eternity – for what lies ahead that we cannot see. We know that heaven’s shore is just beyond, and for that we rejoice. This is why we have Christmas. This is why Jesus died – to redeem us and give us a relationship with God. He makes sense of all the suffering in our lives.
So, really, perhaps Christmas is the best time to suffer. We have all around us the reminder that Christ came to prevent our eternal suffering, and to keep our current suffering in perspective.
Looking into my mother-in-law’s room and watching her sleep, I remind myself that this (suffering) is why He came. It will be worth it all when she sees Jesus. And just think, she could see Him very soon! Yes, this is why He came. Merry Christmas, ( this week I’ll add, Happy Mother’s Day) Mom C.
From my parsonage windows,