Christmas As Joy & Sorrow

This week of Christmas Tony Dungy received the news no parent should ever hear…his son James, took his own life. An 18-year-old student at the University of South Florida, James was found dead in a Tampa-area apartment in what officials are saying was an apparent suicide.

The story touches something deep within me. I am a parent and can’t imagine facing such a loss. I’ve experience with suicide– In 1965 I was the first on the scene when a High School friend attempted to take his own life. In the mid 70’s I spent the afternoon with another friend who took his own life the next day. Every death is loss, but suicide carries a severe weight borne by the living.

The fact that this tragedy came the week of Christmas seems dissonant with the joy of the season, but for those who know the whole story of Jesus, there is a sustaining hope in knowing the babe in the manger grew up to be the man of sorrows who served the pained and experienced it himself on the cross.

In “Miracles” C.S. Lewis talks about a book that is missing a pivotal chapter. One day someone brings a newly discovered piece of the manuscript–it is the chapter in which the whole plot turns, the main theme of the symphony. Lewis says if this missing chapter is authentic, each reading will find it settling down, making itself more at home, illuminating all the parts of the novel we’d seen and pulling them together.

Those who know the story of Christ’s birth know the main theme is missing until we read the rest of the story–Jesus subsequent life, death and resurrection. Those of us who know the full human story know joy is a wonderful gift, but without sorrow the story is incomplete, because into each life comes both joy and sorrow.

I take heart in knowing how the full story of God in Jesus Christ completes the full story of human existence and breathes hope into even the deepest sorrow. Let every heart prepare him room. Let every man and woman of good will receive the one who completes their story and makes sense of every twist and turn in their unique journey.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in December 23, 2005 by | No Comments »

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