Just as we left the house, the rain started. An untimely yellow light, a massive rear end collision that pushed us through an entire intersection, an ambulance ride to the emergency room, and over six hours spent being monitored in a labor and delivery room later, our Christmas Eve last night was unexpected and undesired to say the least. Right after the crash, it was incredibly frightening to see Emily get the wind knocked out of her and then cry as she waited to feel any movement from the baby inside of her. After losing Audrey, we could not help but worry about the possibility of losing another baby. Thankfully, though we are facing stiff and achy muscles from the accident, Emily and Baby are safe and healthy and did not go into premature labor (at twenty-eight weeks). It was a scary turn of events for us though, and in a situation like that you just can’t help but wonder of all the things that could have gone differently to avoid the crash. If we had left the house, literally just two seconds earlier, might we have made it through the intersection safely on a green? Instead, our plans of special time with family that evening were ruined, and I found myself drawn to prayer, asking for help to trust God’s perfect timing. What a stark contrast the rain and storm of events was last night to our expectations of how the night would go. I had to remind myself of the lessons God has taught me in trusting his sovereignty over everything. Last Christmas Eve God began to teach us these lessons and it is amazing how a year later it has come full circle.
Below is an excerpt from our book, sharing how after Audrey, God has taught us to trust His presence with us even in the times that do not seem so blessed by Him. It’s amazing how timely this excerpt is to the season.
On Christmas Eve last year, I drove Emily and her older sister, Jill, in my truck out to dinner. We were heading to meet the rest of the family at a Chinese restaurant. A beautiful snow had begun earlier in the evening, and my headlights lit up the white powder lightly coming down against us in the dark night. The timing of the snow storm had the three of us in the “kid car” giddy with excitement. It was a most welcome storm, arriving in perfect time for a white Christmas day.
Isn’t it amazing that so much of our excitement in the Christmas season stems from the hopeful expectations of all our dreams being perfectly fulfilled on Christmas day? That anticipation of what is to come cheers us all season, and when it finally comes as we had expected we are overcome with joy. If the presents or food or family or weather is any less than hoped for, sometimes it can leave a feeling of a blue Christmas. We all want a White Christmas, one fulfilled with the perfect weather, time with family, and good food and presents to come.
I think the feelings of hope in the season paint a beautiful picture to remind us of the anticipation that was held for the Messiah that very first Christmas day. We were desperate for Christ our Savior to come and perfectly fulfill our greatest need. The anticipation for many people in those times of course was that their Savior would come in great and glorious force, displaying His majesty. We recognize the majesty of Christ’s humble coming now, but back on that fateful day, the lowly birth in a manger did not appear to many as the perfect fulfillment of things promised. Even after people began to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, His horrible death on the cross was not the deliverance His followers anticipated. His own disciples even doubted that He was in fact “the One who was about to redeem Israel” (see Luke 24:21). Yet, in God’s sovereign working, the lowly birth and the awful crucifixion were all part of God’s perfect storm to bring us hope.
While we drove to dinner last Christmas Eve, we found beauty in the storm because it brought the beautiful white snow we had dreamed of. Last night’s rain was a much harder storm to appreciate as we sat pulled over listening to the sounds of sirens coming towards us. I wonder how often in our lives we miss seeing the beauty that may come from a storm simply because it does not bring the bright snow we wished for. How often do I dismiss the sovereign hand of God during storms in my life simply because I don’t get what I’ve been expecting? If I am receptive to yielding to God in His hidden ways, how much more frequently could I find something beautiful God may be wanting to give me?
Take a minute to read the story told in Luke 24:13-35. It’s amazing to me that the same disciples who lament after the crucifixion that they had thought Jesus was, “the One who was about to redeem Israel,” share this disappointment unknowingly with the resurrected Messiah himself as He walks right beside them! In their sadness and lost expectations, they failed to recognize that Jesus was with them the whole time.
My friend, do not let the anguish you’re experiencing over interrupted expectations blind you to seeing that God is right there walking with you. Though He may not have allowed the perfect circumstances you prayed for to happen or may not have come through for you in the way you hoped, let your eyes be open to His presence that is ever with you.
Since our trial with Audrey, God has taught us a lesson of how to cope when things do not go our way. God wants to conform us into the image of His son. We are instructed in 1 Peter 4:1-2, “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.” Even Jesus suffered, and we are told to think like Jesus did in His suffering. We can be confident and free in God’s control over our lives, knowing that His way is always greater than ours. Though the storm may rage around us, God above knows the beauty that can be grown from it. May you find that beauty this Christmas.