Living with Unresolve

“Life would be so much better if I could just remove this one thing.” Do you find yourself saying that? It’s that present problem that you never planned for, but it came. And it’s usually something that you don’t have much control over no matter how hard you try. Like a chronic health issue, an ailing parent, a wayward child, a disengaged spouse, long-term unemployment.

If you truly have a “one thing,” you don’t have to um and ah to conjure it up; it’s an instant response. Because it’s the thing you wake up thinking about and go to bed praying about. No matter how much you pray or change yourself, that “one thing” can still persist—maybe even for years, maybe for life. With that “one thing” persisting, how can you even experience that “life to the full” that Jesus came to give? Do you wonder sometimes if that simply wasn’t meant to be for you?

I’ve faced some tough stuff in my life and even some close calls, but most big things were resolved. Even when my father died suddenly at 55, that was hard, but it was final; resolved. When my son Josiah was diagnosed with autism at age 2—a neurological disorder that doctors say has “no known cause, no known cure, and is lifelong”—I encountered my first big wall in life that I couldn’t get over, naturally heal from, or work my way out of. It’s open-ended, unresolved. Uncomfortable.

I had no grid even in my spiritual life for a problem that didn’t have a foreseeable expiration date. And worse, it affected my only child before my eyes…and not one area of our family lives has been left untouched by it. Still, God says, “I have good plans for you and for your child”… “I work all things together for good”… “I do good work in you.”

Faith progress is believing that He just is Good News that eclipses the power of that which is unresolved right now. He is the Solution to every unanswered question in our lives.

So, how can we live with resolve while that “one thing” is still unresolved (according to Colossians 1)?:

1. Tap into God’s supernatural strength. God offers us a strength accessible by faith that is not our own. It is more than mere day-to-day survival; it is filled with enduring hope and expectation despite the present circumstances. It empowers us to persevere in prayer and speaks to us, “Never give up. Keep walking. Keep trusting.”

2. Cultivate joy and thankfulness. We have to practice these responses by reveling in what we have been given through Christ and engaging his promises instead of succumbing to despair and complaining. The best practice is giving away to others the very thing that you need yourself—like encouragement, prayer, or time.

3. Relentlessly pursue your destiny. God has bright and beautiful things planned for us, and equips us to do each one. The devil would love nothing more than to trap us in the “Land of Why” so that we become embittered to pursuing our God-given purpose. Instead, I dare you to move, to risk, to dream with God again! He is always forward moving—God of the Breakthrough, Restorer.

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Col. 1:11-12 (The Message)

What if Christmas Was More Like Thanksgiving?

‘Tis the season, so they say, for comfort and joy. Yet, if you take a poll of adults in your life and ask them what emotions they feel at Christmastime, the words “comfort” and “joy” don’t seem to roll right off the tongue. ‘Tis more the season for discomfort and toys.

I’m not sure what happens in the short few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but emotions shift. On Thanksgiving day, we all seem to be reflecting on how grateful we are for what we have. Whether we have a lot or a little, we tend to swap soundbites of thanks. Thankful for the food in our bellies, a roof over our heads, freedoms we enjoy, and families who love us. We’re just more apt to go mining for reminders of God’s blessings that day.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, the pumpkins that we were looking at—and eating—are not as satisfying anymore. We turn around from our banquet of thanksgiving only to be confronted squarely by a giant crystal showcase of lack and loss. Bordered by flashing multi-colored Christmas lights. Accompanied by ironically cheery jingle jangle carols.

I’m not saying that absolutely every adult has encountered affects of “the showcase of lack and loss.” But if you’ve lost a loved one, Christmas brings on an ache for the one who left an empty chair. If you’ve lost a job or finances have been a mess, those toys you are compelled to provide for your kids bring added stress. Then there’s family—broken, bickering or miles away—that adds to the weight.

If your life has very little margin as it is, the “extra” of Christmas buying, wrapping, decorating, card-sending, cheer-spreading, program-going, and cooking can make you feel inadequate and overwhelmed. If you have health problems, the only gift you want is healing and it feels so allusive.

So maybe you feel guilty for your secret—or not so secret—bahs and humbugs. Perhaps you’re like me and you have an expectation of Christmas based on how you felt when you were a kid, and as an adult you’ve never been able to match it again. The awe. The wonder. The anticipation and delight. But you can relive it through your kids, right? The spotlight that shines brightly in my showcase of loss is the fact that my 5-year-old boy has autism and doesn’t yet speak, and I’m not sure he even knows what Christmas is. I know many others in this community that feel the lack of “typical.”

I asked God one day, would you show me Christmas from Your perspective? Like most things, if we look at it from a human standpoint we will try to fill this hole with our stuff, and that never really satisfies. Why should we want a “magical” Christmas when we could have a “supernatural” Christmas, anyway?

I was reminded of this: our good Father sent a baby to this earth to be God WITH us. That baby grew up to be a man who died and rose again so we could have Christ IN us, the HOPE of glory! He is why we celebrate. He alone is our inner source of comfort and joy. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. When I think of that, I am spurred to thanksgiving once again!

A Recipe to Share from the Apostle Paul:

I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:12 (MSG)