Psalm 68:3-6 Let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with his joy. Sing praises to God and to his name! . . . Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God . . . God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
I didn’t want to do Christmas. Grief caught me off guard, because last year was fine. I thought I was past that flood of painful feelings. Instead of “merry and bright,” I wanted to hide away somewhere by myself.
Added to missing Karis and her joy in this season, I’ve been lamenting (that’s not too strong a word) the story of our country, caught up with Nehemiah in confessing and mourning the sins and abuses of my people. Wondering what forgiveness looks like. Wondering what restitution looks like. Wondering what healing looks like.
Into all this sadness, God gave me Psalm 68, and he gives me Advent. Acknowledging our brokenness opens doors to true heart-gladness. (See this article published in the New York Times—Tish Harrison Warren is “author-in-residence” at our church: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/30/opinion/sunday/christmas-season-advent-celebration.html)
And God gave me a special experience of community. I risked sharing my sadness with some friends. Instead of judging me, they said “We’ll help you!” And they did. They laid aside their own busy-ness and came over for an evening to help me get ready for Christmas. Even the husband of one of my friends came! He cheerfully decorated cookies for me. Aren’t they cute?
Somehow my friends’ generosity helped me over my emotional hump. The experience reminded me of my sister Jan’s comment on the ButGod posting Nov 29:
I wondered if Caleb’s quick response to Val’s “you’re OK” was partly due to his already having been attended to by you. . . Maybe he would have responded just as well if Val had spoken to him in the midst of the initial meltdown . . . But it seems like a picture of our role in caring for each other in community. We can sometimes provide the immediate holding that allows the other to then perceive/receive God’s “you’re OK; I’m here.”
Isn’t that lovely? God recognizes our need for each other, not “just” for him.
I’m listening to Chris Tomlin’s “This Is Our God.” Yes!
One thought on “But God places the lonely in families”
“But God places the lonely, the solitary, in families”.
How truly wonderful! And how awful when it doesn’t happen. This season highlights both. I googled Christmas suicides and discovered that it’s a myth that suicides increase at Christmastime. Repeated research and articles indicates the opposite.
At the same time, just being with family doesn’t mean we stop being solitary or lonely. We need to ask God for wisdom and discernment in how to connect meaningfully with each of those God brings into our life in this season and particularly in our own families. That can sometimes be especially challenging.
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