I stand next to the appetizers trying to look less awkward than I feel, as if my tiny plate of Chex Mix and roll-ups is some sort of social life preserver. Finally, a familiar set of eyes meet mine. Without their normal shine, I wonder what’s left my friend looking so tired. She confides it’s been “the week from hell.” I giggle and lean in, ready for a normal convo about work.
Her raggedness is left from trudging through tragedy with a close friend. She’s spent the week swimming in the yuckiest, darkest, mire of life. Seeing how this helping left her, I wonder at the courage it takes to move toward a hurt like that . . .
Grabbing coats at the end of the night, my friend’s eyes look brighter. It’s easy for me to equate God with this end-of-the-night-joy, to see God in laughter or friends swaying to good music. What’s harder is to realize that the God of Christmas, the Christ we’re waiting for this advent, is also a God who’s been, like my friend at the start of the night, entirely used up on a cross, spent from loving us.
Our God sits close, His eyes puffy too, right With Us in the room that yells “run the other way:” the illness, the breakup, the suicide, the hurt that threatens to eclipse our hope. It’s a fiercely practical love, one that shows up. Come Lord Jesus . . . God With Us.