It’s Christmas. A time of hope, of wonder, of celebration, and love. A time where memories are made, happiness dwells, and the days seem just a little bit brighter.
However, if you’re anything like me, you’re struggling a bit this Christmas season.
I’m not quite sure what it is, nor can I put my finger on the exact problem, but I can’t help but to feel an overwhelming unsettling within. I guess it makes sense though. With what’s currently taking place around the world–the mass shootings, terrorist attacks, a refugee crisis, as well as widespread fear/pandemonium and the likes, it’s hard not to feel discouraged. With all this ugly and evil being played out in front of us, it’s hard not to sink into some version of despair. Yep, it’s difficult not to succumb to the hopelessness that infiltrates one’s heart and mind during times like these. Even though we’re Christians. Even though we know better.
To tell you the truth (and at the risk of sounding like a total Debbie Downer here), I’m completely drained by the current state of our world. Both emotionally and physically.
But it’s Christmas. The most magical time of the year. A time where the days are overflowing with anticipation and excitement. Where the crisp air eagerly ushers in the upcoming festivities and celebration of our Savior’s birth. There’s hope in these hours. There’s promise in these moments. There’s much to look forward to. But how? Right now, when so many are struggling and hurting, when friends and family members are facing illness and heartache, and when this world has been virtually turned upside down–how? I mean, the amount of prayer requests in my Facebook feed alone is at the very least, overwhelming. So, I struggle. I struggle with feeling joy when so many in this life are hurting. I struggle with fully embracing this season when so many can’t.
This past weekend in church as we lit the second candle of Advent, God reminded me that despite all this ugly we’re subjected to, as well as the suffering we see, we can choose hope. We can be joyous. We can smile, and laugh, and cherish the moments in front of us. We can feel excitement. Because of Jesus.
And not just because of His birth. Or His death. But of His return.
L’est we forget? Jesus will return just as He promised. And His return will do away with suffering just as it will obliterate evil. That moment when He comes back? Everything will be made right.
So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. –Hebrews 9:28
So, yes, it’s Christmas. Let it serve as a reminder, friend. Let our disappointment over the things of this world and the present situations (we can’t really even wrap our heads around) not cloud our hope of what He’s promised…of what is on the horizon. Because that sweet baby—God born in the flesh—all those years ago was guaranteed, prophesied…promised. And our Lord is coming again, just as He told us. Just as it’s written. So let us not fall into despair because these crimes against humanity—these plights and all of this suffering—as horrendous and tragic as they may be, are no surprise to God. Just as the second coming of Jesus Christ should be no surprise to us. There’s no denying the times we are living in are scary. Crazy, even. But this day (today!), we’ve been given is not only brimming with the expectancy of our Savior’s celebrated birth but of the day when He will return.
For you who might be struggling this season, allow these words and these truths to be your focus and your hope.
Because the Lord will fulfill His promise. (Luke 21: 25-28).
This we must cling to.
Another mass shooting.
More fatalities. More injuries.
And yes, another call for stricter gun laws and gun control.
It seems like these shootings are occurring more and more often within our nation as the fear they breed runs rampant in our society. We struggle with the why and the how. We shake our heads and wonder how said events could have been prevented. We look for clues to help us understand the reason(s) behind these tragedies as we attempt to make sense of the senseless. But there’s one thing I don’t think we’ve addressed yet when it comes to these crimes. I believe there’s still one issue that we haven’t really thought about nor mentioned;
There’s sin in suffering.
Allow me to explain.
At the age of thirty-eight (almost thirty-nine), I’ve realized that suffering is a part of life. That on this Earth each and every one of us will have troubles, we will have pain, and yes, we will endure trials. In fact, it’s to be expected, friend. Tragedies will find us, hardships will occur, and trials beyond our comprehension will undoubtedly take place. It’s a given. However, I don’t think many of us realize this…and I don’t think we’re prepared for them when they happen. It’s true. Generally speaking, we don’t know how to handle these situations. We don’t know what to do or say, how to think or act. In those moments of unbearable suffering, we don’t understand why God would allow us to hurt in such a way. And oftentimes, when we’re not deeply rooted in our faith–when we don’t have a relationship with God–the Enemy can grab a foothold. Indeed, sometimes suffering can lead to sin. Incomprehensible sin. And yes, even tragedies like the one we saw yesterday.
It’s been said so many times before that it’s kind of cliché at this point, but our problem as a nation has nothing to do with guns, but rather those who use such a weapon to take away their suffering by inflicting it upon others. Those who sin because they are in fact, suffering.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33
Cancer, depression, grief, or whatever might be afflicting our souls and wreaking havoc on our bodies (at present), we have to realize that despite what we are facing, Jesus has overcome the world. The world! There’s comfort in that. There’s an overwhelming peace to be found and felt in those words. Struggles are going to happen. There’s going to be times when life appears impossible. Times where just getting up in the morning is a feat in and of itself. But when said trials arise, let us seek counsel from our Heavenly Father. Let us turn to Him in our suffering rather than away from Him. Let’s approach His throne and lay our troubles at His feet.
Let’s truly know, love, and rely on Him. Because it’s then that we’ll see the shift, don’t you think? It’s then and there that we’ll truly become one nation under God.
Honestly, I don’t know what kind of suffering was taking place within the soul of Chris Harper Mercer. I’m not sure what hardships he faced or what level of suffering he endured, but evil was present yesterday, just as his sin lead to more suffering. So, will you join me in praying for Roseburg and our nation as a whole? Let us approach the throne of our Lord and beg for others to seek Him in their suffering. That we may turn away from sin in the midst of our pain and glorify Jesus in every moment of every day.
Jesus be near.
Did you hear about it?
Did you hear what took place in Washington D.C. right there on Capitol Hill yesterday? Because every media outlet, every news station, and every social media site should be sharing this news with all of us. It should be the leading story. Yesterday, Planned Parenthood testified to Congress…and the results weren’t pretty. In fact, they were unbelievably damaging.
You know, we talk about a war on women, “we” literally yell at politicians to “get out of our vaginas,” we state that a bunch of men should not be making decisions as to what we do with our bodies, to leave us alone, and to provide abortions on demand and without apology. As a thirty-eight year old women, I don’t get it. I don’t understand how we could possibly feel we have the right to such a thing. And yet, as a culture, so many women have chosen to ignore the uncovered facts because we feel our rights trump ‘doctored” videos. In essence, we don’t want to see the truth. We don’t want to know that a non-profit organization has been lying to us about services provided. We don’t want to know what takes place in those clinics. We don’t want to hear about it because maybe, just maybe it forces us to realize that the real war on women happens to be from an an association that purportedly cares about us the most. A non-profit who receives over 100 million dollars a year in excess donations. A non-profit who doesn’t provide mammograms (I’m talking to you, Ms. Tennessee). A non-profit who casually eats lunch while discussing infantcide as if it were no big deal.
But we forget, don’t we? Life takes over and those videos which once blanketed Facebook, are hardly shared anymore. And this news? The news that took place yesterday? Well, it barely showed up in my feed today. It appears we’ve moved on from this story. We’ve replaced this old news with something else. But we can’t. We can’t move on. We can’t forget about this issue like we’ve forgotten about others. We can’t let another story take precedence over this one. Not when we’re so close. Not when others are starting to second-guess this whole abortion biz and the “women’s healthcare” giant that is Planned Parenthood.
Get loud, please. Continue to share this story. Let’s care less about what our FB friends think and more about what’s at stake here. This isn’t old news, friend…this is the most important news ever.
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By Emily T. Wierenga
“I don’t know how to tell you this, Emily, but—they said no.” I’m on the phone with my agent two weeks after giving birth to my nearly nine-pound Kasher and I’m crying before she starts because I know.
“It’s been so long,” I whisper. It’s all the breath left in me.
“I know—I’m so sorry,” she says, and we’re silent together, except for my hiccupping sobs. An editor has been courting the manuscript for a year, and after three hundred and sixty five days of waiting, the publishing board has said no and I have nothing.
Forgetting how doctors had said I wouldn’t be able to have children, forgetting about the miracle that lies in my arms and the other one that’s coloring a picture at the Ikea kids’ table. Forgetting about the man who lives to make me laugh, who’s making wine in the kitchen, forgetting the sound of Mum’s voice on the end of the line, the voice of a woman I’d thought would die now lives, healed of her brain tumor.
Forgetting that a book deal is not what gives me a name, but it’s all I hear: the sound of rejection on the other end of the line, the sound of me, being made a fool, for all my waiting and hoping. The champagne bottle unopened in the fridge.
“Everything okay?” Trent mouths the words at me. I shake my head. Kasher asleep in my arms and my agent telling me I should spend some time writing what I want to write. To put this book aside and just do something that brings me joy.
I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to do anything for joy and then I remember dating Trent. I remember that kiss in the rain outside his townhouse; I remember hours on the carpet with my head on his chest, talking, listening to the radio and I remember midnight bike rides to Rundle Park, playing Frisbee golf and watching movies just to hold each other’s hand.
A joy that writes what it wants to.
“Alright,” I say, and my agent prays with me and we say Goodbye.
I wonder how long she will put up with me. I haven’t sold anything yet and Aiden’s showing me his picture. It’s a scribble of green marker—his favorite color—and he’s got green on his lips and he’s smiling but his eyebrows are raised. He’s wondering if I like it, and he’s only two. His mommy’s fears course through him and I kneel down and hug him, tell him, “It’s magnificent, son, I can’t wait to hang it on the fridge,” and his small body relaxes.
He knows in this moment that I love him because I said I like his picture but I want for him what I want for me: the long-lasting sense of self in spite of what the world tells him. I want him to be so at peace that he can sleep in the boat while the storm rocks and I want him to know without a shadow of a doubt the confidence that makes a person walk on water.
And maybe if I learn it, he will too.
This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to ATLAS GIRL), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, artist, and the author of five books. Her first novel, A Promise in Pieces, released Spring of 2014, and her memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I thought to Look (Baker Books) released July 1, 2014. The sequel, Making It Home.
I just watched the fifth, sixth, and seventh videos of the twelve that will be released by CMP exposing the horrendous practices of Planned Parenthood. I watched as an 18-20 week human fetus is removed from a freezer and dissected down to bits. Parts of intestine. An arm. A liver. I listened as dollars were discussed while pieces of this child were raised for the camera to view. I then heard a former StemExpress worker discuss the horrifying practices conducted on an “intact” fetus and you know what? It’s just too much. Sickening in fact. Heart-wrenching. And yet as horrified as I am by what I’m seeing, something else disturbs me even more. Yes, even more than the dissected parts of a precious soul:
Women are still supporting this.
Millions of women are still standing with Planned Parenthood despite what they may have seen and/or heard about these practices. They’re defending such actions and debunking these videos, and I can’t help but wonder why. Not after what I’ve seen and heard. Not after what I’ve known about this organization for years. Not as a mom. No way. But still, many of us defend, stand with, and support..and my curiosity urged me to figure out why.
So, I headed over to the Planned Parenthood Action page on Facebook. Oddly enough, there was no mention of the details of these videos or the doctors and directors who appeared in them. Instead, I found post after post discussing the anti-women’s healthcare politicians (namely the Republican party) and the anti-abortion extremists as the real culprits in all of this. It showed images of reproductive freedom fighters and how their efforts on the hill should be applauded. I read the comments supporters were leaving in defense of PP, many slanderous in nature against opponents of the organization. I looked at the agenda that was consistently being promoted as well as the attacks against those interested in defunding PP–those who obviously didn’t want women to have affordable and accessible healthcare. I struggled with the images I was seeing as well as the words I was reading because women—lots of women (and even some men )are buying into this. They’re sold on what Planned Parenthood is selling. And I guess I can’t exactly blame them. Hear me out on this:
See, I, too once believed in this organization. I, too was once a supporter of Planned Parenthood. I favored abortion, and believed in a woman’s right to choose. I once felt this group was offering the very best in women’s healthcare, and that their efforts should be supported and even funded by the government (taxpayers included). I, too was misled by their vocabulary and the women’s rights and entitlements they were promoting. No religious fanatics or right-wing politicians could tell me otherwise. I used to believe all of this because I trusted the information Planned Parenthood was telling me. I mean where else could I receive my birth control? Where else could I get a mammogram? Where else could I get the services that were (supposedly) exclusive to Planned Parenthood? Nowhere…because that’s what they were feeding me. That’s what they’ve been feeding us all.
So I urge each one of you to do your homework and find out more about this organization. I ask you to really think about what you’re seeing in the news. I’m encouraging you to question everything you’ve heard and read. Get informed. Read testimonies like that of Abby Johnson who once directed a Planned Parenthood clinic. Educate yourselves because I firmly believe that the real war on women comes from being misinformed and yes, misled. Misled into believing that money doesn’t reign supreme. Misled into believing that abortion is a human right. And yes, misled into believing that Planned Parenthood has our best interest in mind.
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