Christmas. Everyone responds to this time of year differently. For some, it’s a great season filled with food and family and happy memory-making. For others, it’s a time of dread. Money’s tight or nonexistent. The reminder of losses—of loved ones, jobs, relationships, faith– sets in. In the season where we’re supposed to feel joyful we sometimes feel loneliness, anxiety and fear instead. The “reason for the season” gets lost in the reality of life and we just try to bear down and make it to the new year where our resolutions await and we might get a fresh start.
Christmas is a time, honestly, where things don’t feel too equal. Those who have money and jobs get presents. Those who don’t, can’t. Those who have intact families—or some semblance of one—get to be together. Those who have broken families, no family, exes who make things hard, or weird inlaws get to manage through that mess instead and often end up alone or angry. Some people have tried all year to get a job, keep a job, enjoy a job, to no avail while others are soaring up the corporate ladder getting one raise after another. Others are worried about gaining some extra pounds over the holidays while others are fighting for their lives battling cancer or trying to stop using drugs. Some people are happily married while others are still reeling from a painful divorce. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair.
In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not fair. I don’t know where I got this crazy idea that life was going to be fair. And even though I know life isn’t, I still desperately want it to be. And fairness in my little pea brain usually means equal. Equal means we all get the same—the same blessing, the same help, the same hope, the same attention, the same _______. You fill in the blank. But of course I only want equality when it comes to the good things—money, possessions, jobs, influence, God’s “blessings.” I can do without equality the other direction…I mean who wants health issues or job losses or bankruptcy or more pain? I am learning, the hard way, that life isn’t fair. And life isn’t equal, either. Some of us have harder roads, others have easier. Some have deeper pain and loss, others just haven’t experienced some of the more life-defining struggles. One isn’t right and the other’s wrong. One’s not better, more important or more valuable. It’s just different. And to somehow try to explain why in the world God has made it so complicated is utterly impossible.
But this Christmas here’s what I keep clinging to—His ways are higher than mine and what’s unfair here on earth somehow gets made right in heaven. Jesus loves me as much as he loves the next person. And that’s not dependent on anything I do or don’t do or they do or don’t do. He doesn’t place greater value on any of us because of our looks or power or money or Bible knowledge or status or lack thereof. That’s a man-made thing. But God says to all of us that we are His treasured possessions and that when we get lost, He’ll go searching for us.
On Sunday we looked at the Story of the Lost Coin in Luke 15. It really was a simple gift from Jesus, a reminder that we are equally valuable in His eyes. Worth searching for. Fighting for. Celebrating for. Do you believe that? Most days, if I’m honest, the answer is “yes, if….”. I feel valuable when I’m doing the right things and I am staying “on top” of my life (doesn’t happen too often). When I’m lost–struggling to gain back some of my past fervor for God, controlling my life instead of trusting God, feeling sad and alone or full of shame for some stupid mistake I made–I’m not feeling too valuable.
But Jesus reminds me in this passage that my lostness has nothing to do with His value for me. In fact, it is just the opposite. He’ll turn the tables to find me not because of anything I can do, prove, muster, or mess up. It has nothing to do with my circumstances, how hard or easy my life is going at the moment. I don’t always understand His “finding”. Sometimes I’m like “hey, God, are you sure you are looking hard enough?” but then, when I take a closer look, I notice that usually it’s me that misses His looking. I am distracted by all of the things that are wrong and easily miss the things that are right—the small things to be thankful for, the simple and subtle ways God is saying “See, here I am. I’ve been looking for you.”