Saturday, December 15, 2007

Suffering and Christmas

This is one of the wards of Grantham Hospital in Wong Chuk Hang, near Aberdeen. It is clean, airy and tidy; the staff are professional and kind. One of the 70+ year old man there has been there for several months. He has cancer of the lungs, as well as other ailments including some form of dementia. He can recall many people and events in the past, but cannot remember whether he has had breakfast. He remembers a visitor as a son of his brother, but not the visitor’s name.

He is suffering more and more as the days go by. Lately the doctors have started to prescribe morphine to help him bear the pain. His wife has to come to the hospital twice a day to feed him. He does not like the hospital food so she has to make soup, or porridge for him, even though he can eat only very little. His two daughters and two sons take turns to keep him company. Sometimes they have to stay overnight because he was suffering so much. His brother and sisters, nephews and nieces also come to see him. Some would read the Bible to him, and pray with him.

He is one of the more fortunate ones because he has family and relatives who care. Many of the others in the same ward do not often have visitors. In any case, when one person suffers, the whole family and others suffer with him, one way or the other. In such a state, how can they enjoy the trees, lights, decorations, parties, and gifts of Christmas?

But Christmas is joyful precisely because this is a needy world, precisely because the world is full of suffering.

A family that has everything will accept a gift politely, and then set it aside. It means little to them. A family in need, on the other hand, will accept a gift with true thankfulness and joy. What does the suffering world need? Not just relief from pain, not just prolonged life in this world. A man healed of sickness will still die, either from re-occurrence of the illness, or simply from old age. What the suffering world really needs is hope, true redemption from sin and its consequences. That’s what the Christ of Christmas brings. That’s why there is joy in Christmas. Don't you think?


Anonymous said...

We are all going to leave this world, sooner or later. True hope and everlasting joy can only be found in Jesus. Christmas is the best time to tell people about this. Let's try to invite someone to church this Christmas. Maybe they are really curious about what goes on inside there, and it really just takes an invitation to get them going.

StephenC said...

Yeah, we who have received the blessings should try to pass them along.

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