Maybe I need to revisit the Christmas classic that brings enlightenment to downtrodden George Bailey. I may not be facing financial ruin and jail time like he was, but I can relate to his anguish. Let's face it. No matter how yours is packaged, it isn't always a wonderful life.
In fact, it can be downright awful. Heartwrenching. Disappointing. Even brutal. Sorry George, but I think you had it right. Life itself can be full of wonder and beauty, but day to day life isn't the wonderful, picture-perfect event we'd like it to be.
How can I look into the eyes of the kids I saw on Facebook, curled up in a hospital bed and fighting for their lives, and tell them it's a wonderful life? How can I even think of suggesting it to the elderly man I encountered in the store parking lot this morning? He slowly inched his way to the market, one step at a time, leaning heavily upon his crutches. The struggle, the pain, and the frustration were etched upon his face. Do I dare tell the homeless man and his young daughter I observed on my drive home that life is wonderful? These dear people know better.
Every year my family gets a chuckle over some of the letters we receive tucked inside the Christmas cards. We laugh because life isn't the way it's depicted in the sweet, sugary notes and the pretty photos. Life is hard! Yes, there are beautiful, wonderful aspects. And every day is a glorious gift. We are wise to appreciate the time we have to journey on this earth.
But it isn't a wonderful life. There are wonderful people, wonderful moments, wonderful memories ~ if we are blessed enough to encounter them. But from day one, life is a struggle.
The good news is that there is wonderful life ahead, IF we want it. No brag letter or polished photo can hold a candle to what awaits those of us who say "yes" to the invitation. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17)
This is what Christmas is all about. God sent his Son into a world that had turned into anything but wonderful, in order that we could take hold of the wonderful life he has for us. And this life is for eternity. Not convinced? "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." (1Corinthians 2:9)
"For God so loved the world..." How can we refuse that? Why would we want to? For those who choose to believe, it will be a wonderful life ~ one day.
"The birth of Jesus made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. It is a truth that, for twenty centuries, there have been untold numbers of men and women who, in untold numbers of ways, have been so grasped by the child who was born, so caught up in the message he taught and the life he lived, that they have found themselves profoundly changed by their relationship with him."
"I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."
~John 10:10b, The Message