Joy Beyond Pain
I remember when we were waiting for Avery, our firstborn. I remember feelings more than scenes. I remember the feeling at the first doctor’s visit - the overwhelming realization that "this is real." I remember the preparations made for our new arrival, whether necessary, frivolous, or emotional. It was a Sesame Street theme. I remember painting an old crib, attending several baby showers, and being given more diapers than I thought we would ever use (boy, was I wrong!).
I remember Meka’s backaches, her uncomfortable nights of sleep, and her ever-shrinking bladder. I remember the anxiousness we both had as we waited and waited through the hot month of August with a car with no air conditioning. I remember driving to the hospital a couple of times with false alarms.
I remember the day we were sent to the hospital to be induced for delivery. I remember the family reunion of aunts, uncles, parents, siblings, and cousins who circled my wife’s room. I remember the nurse making a convenient excuse for them all to wait somewhere else as my wife’s pain increased. I remember holding her still as the epidural was given to her. I remember almost passing out after that.
I remember watching as things progressed, seeing the nurses gather equipment, and seeing the doctor arrive and stay. I remember at 1:59 a.m. everything changed.
I remember going with Avery to the nursery as they did all of their testing and procedures. Just us. I remember promises made – some kept, others unfulfilled. I remember pride. I remember the weight of responsibility. I remember relief. I remember dreams of what may come. I remember an indescribable love.
In what I do, I live the events of the church calendar much earlier than most. My Advent and Christmas planning usually happen in July and August. Music has to be ordered, instrumentalists have to be contacted, and concerts have to be planned. When I think of Advent as a time of preparation and anticipation, my mind usually wonders to the birth of my first child – Avery was born in August. I won’t lie – it’s tough. His birth was such a joyous time, and yet, in retrospect, it’s such a weighty memory.
For the concert I settled on The Great Expectation, but I thought it important not to minimize the struggles that I as well as many others go through during this season. Many of you have those same memories that are sweet - yet hard to enjoy. The concert begins with the anticipation of the first coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and rejoices at his birth. Then it turns to how some of us struggle in rejoicing in our Savior due to the weight of life and the scars we carry. How do you prepare to receive Jesus when you are hurting?
There’s no easy answer for this. There is no bestselling book with the pathway that works to pull you out of the miry pit of despair. There is no magic pill. No distraction can bring relief. Depression is a reality in a fallen world. We have a tendency to hide it or hide from it. We don’t acknowledge it in ourself or others. Our concert tries to shine a light on its existence and a Godly focus on its solution.
Christ came to earth for a purpose. He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? In my tears, there is love, love for a son who is no longer with me. God gave his own Son for us. What greater love is this? The love of Jesus and his sacrifice on our behalf must be repeated to those who believe over and over and over. Our music in the second half of the concert tries to do exactly that.
I hope you all can come Sunday, December 19 at 6 p.m. for our concert with orchestra, The Great Expectation. Bring family and friends. Bring those that struggle at Christmas. Bring those that are lonely, burdened, and tired. Bring those that need to know Jesus. There is a joy we have beyond our tears. We know Jesus is coming again and will make all things new. Look forward to that day and celebrate the King of kings and Lord of lords.