This Christmas will be different for my family. Firstly, we’ll be together for the first time in 4 years. Secondly, one of us will have cancer.
In June this year my 2-year-old niece, Eva, was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer. After the initial shock, we went into Project Eva planning mode. Jobs were reshuffled, care plans were worked out, and flights were booked. My family, spread over 3 states, did what we do best. We cared. But amongst that care was a sense of utter uselessness. No matter how many meals we cooked, children we minded, or tears we shed, we had no power over the cancer.
I expect when we finally come together on 24 December 2022, we’ll all be pretty different from the people we were before Eva. Petty squabbles between me and my sisters will be eclipsed by our love for each other’s kids. Thankfulness will overtake the usual relational tensions of the Christmas gathering as we are freshly reminded of the fragility of life.
I think many of us can relate to Christmases like these after major illnesses or accidents rock a family. The pandemic certainly taught us a lot about the value of being together, let alone the value of good health.
The Christmas story is one of God entering into fragility. The idea that a God would reduce himself to be a human – a member of His own creation – is mind-spinning even to those who believe it. And the motive behind this madness? Love.
This Christmas, amid our grief and uselessness, I’m thankful that my family and I pray to a God who entered into fragility, into weakness, and eventually into death for me and mine – and for anyone who calls out to him.