A few days ago I posted an urgent request for prayer on my facebook page. Russian government officials are trying to push a ban on US adoptions through parliament and, much to my shock and dismay, they have been successful so far. Last I hear the ban was going to be reviewed in full on December 26 before going to President Putin for a final signature. My knees go weak when I think about what this could mean for adoptive families who are in process and the children who are so desperately in need of families to love them. Yesterday this article was published in the Moscow Times which seems to suggest that all might not be lost and President Putin may refuse to sign the bill. Please pray that this is the case; pray that US/Russia adoptions will NOT be stopped and that children will still find their families and families their children. At the very least I am praying desperately that those families in-process will complete their adoptions before the potential ban goes into effect.
This morning John and I had out first post-placement visit from our social worker and she commented that we must be so relieved, having brought Arie home in the nick of time. Honestly I can hardly even let myself think about that. As I type this post my hands are trembling, just imagining the devastation we would have experienced had we already met and fell in love with him and then been forbidden from bringing him home. Some families have traveled just this week for their court dates and been sent home without seeing a judge. Truly, I can't even imagine the pain they must fell. Like they can't even breathe.
And on top of the pain, these families are now facing the holidays with so much uncertainty about the future. How do they find joy in Christmas when their worlds could be falling apart?
I've also had the honor of hearing many different women share their stories with me through comments and private messages over the last few months. Many of those stories have lots of pain involved. My eyes sting to think of how many women have written and shared with me about infertility, miscarriages, deaths, and failed adoptions. I often feel overwhelmed by it all.
There are so many hurting hearts out there, wondering how to find joy this Christmas.
I was reflecting on these thoughts while reading the Christmas story from Luke and something in the second chapter struck me in a new way. It's what the angels sing before the shepherds in verse 14:
Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
Peace. Yes, an angel also declares that he brings good news of great joy, but when the angels actually rejoice themselves they don't actually name joy as the reason for their rejoicing. They name God's glory and they name peace. That's what causes them to sing.
When I think about all those heavy hearts, weighted down by the pain of loss, I consider the fact that maybe what they need more than joy- or before the joy- this Christmas is: peace.
This Christmas there will be couples dealing with infertility who have to sit beside a sister or a brother-in-law, beaming as they announce their new pregnancy.
There will be women still bleeding from a recent miscarriage who will have to answer well-meaning questions and jokes about when they'll finally start a family.
There will be so many people who have memorized the photographed face of their child in a country far away, wondering if they'll ever get to bring that child home. And even more who don't even have a photograph to hold on to and pray for.
If you are wading through a season of pain and longing, my prayer for you is that you find peace this Christmas. Not peace in infertility or loss or longing- but peace in Christ. Peace is knowing that while you may not have a child to hold in your arms this year, there was a baby born just for you two thousand years ago. And he is Christ the Lord.
This baby born for you and for me will be our only true source of peace. He has healed our spiritual brokenness. He has forgiven our sins and enabled us to receive the gift of the Spirit. I can't tell you how many women have said to me, "I don't know how I'm surviving this journey except by the strength of the Lord." This is the Spirit at work, giving us peace in the midst of the most unbearable circumstances. Putting us in touch with the God who says never will I leave you. No! Not ever will I forsake you. What peace to hear these words from God when the pregnancy stick says not pregnant for the seventeenth time, three days before Christmas. Though a baby does not grow in your womb, a baby lived and died for you so that his spirit- and his peace- would rest in your heart.
And while this baby provides our inner peace today, he also promises all-encompassing peace tomorrow. Peace not just to comfort us in the storm, but peace that does away with the storm all together. For those of whom the angels sang - those on whom his favor rests- he is putting the world back together so that one day he will wipe every tear from our eyes. And there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things- the brokenness- will have passed away. No more longing. No more orphans. No more babies dying before they're even born. No more pain. Oh how I long for that day.
Maybe your Christmas will be less than merry this year. Maybe you're finding it hard to rejoice. Grab hold of the peace Christ came to give you. Grab hold of the promise of a new world, tomorrow. A baby was born for you two thousand years ago and today- and this Christmas- he is Christ the Lord. When that peace truly floods your heart, I know you will soon by moved to joy.
Merry Peaceful Christmas to you.