Christmas, Five Minute Friday scribblings, Hope, Joy

Tender: Jesus’ Reflection Through Us

Christmas on the outside

Our Five Minute Friday prompt this week is—OUR CHOICE. Yeah, this one scared me a little bit. But the word came quickly, so here goes!

This largely unedited “rough draft” form of writing stretches this perfectionist, in the best of ways. I write for five minutes on a given topic. If you’re interested in learning more about 5-Minute Fridays, check out our hostess, Kate Motaung’s site. Or, click on the link at the bottom of this post. As you read my simpler Friday posts, I hope you’ll join in the conversation!

TENDER

This week we lost a student in our high school. It’s left our school’s community in shock. Though my boys aren’t in high school yet, they’ve been impacted.

When I heard the news, my heart cried for that mama. She’s probably already bought Christmas gifts for her chid. Had plans and ways to make memories with her family. This family who will walk through their first Christmas without this precious son.

What happened to “peace on earth, good will to men?” What’s happening in our world that strips away the tenderness in our hearts, our spirits?

We’re divided with so much to do in a season that should also encompass joy. And yet, so many are struggling with hard, hard situations.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I would have a heart that is tender toward those hurting in my circle.

That I would see beyond the smiling exterior and know how to speak a word of hope or encouragement.

That I would take the time to see beyond the surface and speak something that would make them feel just a little bit better.

snow-blown landscape

This season is not always happy and cheerful for people. Especially those who’ve lost loved ones this year.

And yet, Jesus.

Jesus knows the hurts so many people face. He knows that celebrating this Christmas is beyond them. Maybe all they have energy for is to get out of bed. To try to—I don’t know—eat a meal.

May we who are not in those hard situations right now look beyond the busy-ness in our own lives, and at the very least, take a moment to pray for those hurting during this season. May we take that extra moment to express, “I care” through words to those in pain.

Jesus didn’t tell us to be happy all the time. And though He gives us joy, there are times when the feeling eludes us.

He does exhort us to be a reflection of Himself. When Jesus saw someone hurting, He came alongside them, spoke truth and hope to them. Not condemnation. Not fake euphemisms.

Jesus ornament

With this unexpected death rocking our little school community this week, it’s got me thinking about how I can celebrate Christmas with authenticity, with a tender heart and with eyes that see beyond the initial and into the “real.”

May we see people around us through Jesus’ eyes and reach out to them with His tender love.

What about you? How do you grapple with the tragedies and still hold onto hope? What’s one thing you do to celebrate Christmas authentically?

I’m linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday. Click to see many other great posts!

*****

I am taking a little blogging vacation to spend time with my family. As you celebrate Christmas, may you know Jesus’ presence in special ways.

I’ll see you on January 5, 2016!

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30 thoughts on “Tender: Jesus’ Reflection Through Us”

  1. Beautiful post and pictures, Jeanne.

    I have to confess that I did not know anyone who died of natural causes until I was in my forties; what others called the tragedy of early death was to me a metaphorical shrug. “Be glad he made it that far.”

    As a result I am not the best person to offer comfort…my paradigm embraces the suck, as they say, and since it doesn’t affect MY faith, I’m always faintly surprised that others find themselves shaken.

    I am trying to learn this. I don’t get far with “Jesus love you!”, because when someone’s hurting it sure doesn’t feel like that. I tend to point out that Jesus was tortured to death, and even though He asked to be saved…He wasn’t.

    Stupid rationalists would say it ended there, but there’s one thing further…eleven of twelve apostles, none of whom was remotely described as being loonier than beer night at the monkey house, died for their faith.

    Smart, sensible people died for SOMETHING, and an honest application of Occam’s Razor leaves the answer as…wait for it…the Resurrection happened, and Jesus was and IS indeed the Son of God.

    That’s comforting.

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    1. Andrew, such good thoughts here. I was caught on thinking about how faith can be shaken when a loved one dies. I’ve never had anyone close-close to me die, and it’s hard to grasp how faith can be shaken. I suspect that when we lose someone we love, someone we thought God wanted us to have around for awhile, we struggle with trying to understand.

      I know as you bear up under your own, very difficult cross, you’ve grappled with faith and come out stronger and more fervent in your belief. And yes, remembering that the Resurrection did happen, and Jesus IS the Son of God, that can bring comfort.

      Thank you for helping me refine my perspective . . . again. Praying for you today, friend.

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  2. Praying! I keep coming back to this verse this week: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”–Luke 1:78-79 I’m over in the #15 spot.

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    1. Tara, that is a beautiful verse. Hope weaves through it. We may not understand what happens this side of heaven, but God’s mercy is still present. His light still shines, guiding us. Thanks for that. I hope your CHRISTmas is memory-filled this year!

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  3. jeanne, so sad to hear of this loss. it’s events like this that tend to make us tender toward others…or not. i just saw a documentary this week make on the 10 year anniversary of the columbine shooting. it was very interesting to see and hear the responses of the parents and children to the deaths of mostly brothers/sisters and children. (one teacher was killed.)

    i was challenged to see one family in particular who, in their loss, reached out to one of the severely injured girls (partially paralyzed) and started visiting her in the hospital while she was so ill. as a result, she has become a close friend. they were able to provide support to her parents, encourage the girl/woman now, and help her so the parents didn’t have to do everything over that time. they didn’t talk about it to pat themselves on the back. it started as a step of recovery for the wife as she chose to do something positive to deal with her grief once a week.

    it was very touching. some people had written books. some talk to high schools…but some still seem stuck. it was very interesting to see the different responses.

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    1. Martha, what an interesting documentary that must have been. I read a couple of the books after they came out. My parents knew the parents of one of the girls who was killed in that shooting. What a beautiful testimony of the family who chose to reach out to one of the wounded girls. I wasn’t aware of that.

      I haven’t faced a loss like the families from school shootings, but my heart is becoming more tender toward those who are hurting. I hope I can emulate Jesus’ love to those who are grieving and hurting this Christmas season, and throughout the year.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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  4. Tragedies like this are so hard. Especially at this time of year when our expectations of joy and peace are so high. I love your message and your heart here, friend. Especially this: “celebrate Christmas with authenticity, with a tender heart and with eyes that see beyond the initial and into the “real.” The world won’t see Jesus in our merry parties or our silver bells – but they will see him as we bleed the gospel when we suffer in His name. I’m praying now for that mother – and may you and your family experience Emmanuel in a fresh way this year.

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    1. Karen, you’re so right! The world won’t see Jesus in the “happy” and the parties. Jesus shines most brightly when we walk our hardships in a real way, with our eyes on and our trust in Him. When we can love others with His love, even when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

      Thank you so much for praying for his mother and family.

      It’s so good to see you today! 🙂

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  5. Yes, Jeanne! One of the desires of my heart (and praise Him, I’m seeing Him begin to flesh it out!) is to die to the excuse that mercy isn’t my strength, and to live in tenderness toward those around me. Thank you for the beautifully worded reminder that all is not well, and it will not be here in the shadowlands… and yet in the midst of it, He can bring grace. Hugs!

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    1. Angela, I love that God has a way of stripping away our excuses. He’s had to do that with me too. 🙂 May we both have eyes to see and hearts to live out His tenderness toward those around us. I’m so glad you stopped by!

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  6. A son of a former professor of mine committed suicide over a year ago. Though the professor was at another school, our community was still impacted by it. It brings a shock to the system. I still pray for the family daily. I’ll continue to pray for your family and community as well.

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    1. Sam, I am so sorry to hear about the young man in your community. That is truly devastating to a family and friends, and to the community around them. That kind of news does shock the system. I love that you’re praying for that family daily. I’ve been praying too.

      I hope your CHRISTmas is a restful, peaceful one!

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  7. Jeanne, this is such a needful post. In our own press toward busyness and celebration it is easy to forget those for whom this season is one of sadness or sorrow.
    Yet being Jesus-with-skin-on to a hurting world means having awareness, tenderness and compassion toward all people at all times, especially when it seems like a whole world is rejoicing and some feel out on a limb, lost and alone with their pain.
    Thank you for this timely reminder of how we sit between this world and the next, betwixt a Kingdom arrived with the birth of Jesus on earth and an eternal Kingdom still to come in all its fullness.

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    1. Joy, I completely agree with you. If we are going to reflect Jesus, we have to be aware of those around us. Only then are we able to portray Jesus’ tenderness and compassion. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here. I hope your CHRISTmas finds you knowing God’s rest and peace.

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  8. Your choice of word prompts today is the perfect description for your words: tender. Tender words from a tender heart. I am moved by your tender grace and how God has moved your heart toward others. Yes, friend, yes! My prayer too, to see others through His eyes. Thank you Jeanne.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, my friend. May we both have eyes wide open to those around us, so that we might convey Jesus’ love and comfort to the hurting among us. I hope your CHRISTmas holds much joy, my friend!

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  9. Ah, Jeanne, thank you for the beautiful reminder to have a tender heart towards those who are hurting at Christmas. One of my college friends lost her daughter this spring in a tragic accident. I’m saying a prayer for her and her family right now.

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    1. I am so sorry for your friend, Anita. I can’t image how hard this “first” will be for your friend. I’ll pray God shows you how to pray for her and maybe bless her in some way. I also hope your CHRISTmas will hold good memories with your family, my friend.

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  10. I can’t imagine losing a child. Praying for God’s comfort for the whole family. So very hard.

    Your words are beautiful. “And yet, Jesus.” There are so many hurting souls this Christmas. I too have been meditating on Zachariah’s prophecy that we now live in, of Jesus shining His Light into our darkness. Only in Him can we have deep joy precisely in the heartache. That’s why Jesus says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Blessed means exceedingly happy…but that only comes in the “mourning” and being “comforted”. It’s a powerful knowing love that holds us in the depths of grief. Been thinking a lot about how the courage to grieve ushers in His deep joy. And you are being His vessel of joy, as you step in to be His hands and feet among the broken. May God bless you as you step in to bless others through Him.

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    1. Such wise words you share, Anna. There is comfort knowing that Jesus’ light will brighten the darkness. In knowing He is God With Us, even when life feels overwhelmingly hard. Thank you for the prayers for this family.

      I hadn’t thought about the fact that it takes courage to grieve, but I think you’re right. Your thoughts resonate with me. Thank you so much for adding to our conversation, Anna.

      I hope your CHRISTmas is a precious one with your family.

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  11. It’s just so sad… and hard… and heavy… and it reminds us all that we really are a weary world –and we really are in need of some rejoicing! (And the only way we can do that is in remembering that Holy Night!) And this: “May we see people around us through Jesus’ eyes and reach out to them with His tender love.” Just all the Yes and Amens, my friend! Praying for this family and your community!

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    1. Karrilee, I think you’re right. The world is WEARY, just like the song says. It’s only when we remember that Jesus gave up His role in heaven to take on finite flesh, all because He loves us, that we can find refreshment and comfort. Thank you for your prayers for this family and our school community. They are much appreciated.

      Enjoy your CHRISTmas with your family, my friend!

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  12. Sad and tragic especially at Christmas time, death is always sad….my world has known a good amount of death, thankfully it is spread out, so we grieve but we find comfort in the Word…and I try not to think too much…

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  13. Jeanne, this is a really good and thoughtful post. Christmas is more than just a day, it’s a season that lingers upon those who suffer through grief, loneliness, and other hardships. While many people wait with joyful anticipation of the day, many other just can’t wait for it to pass. Hope can be regained in time, but in the midst of their present struggle, our being conscience of their sorrow will go a long way in helping them make it through the season.

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    1. Gene, thank you for sharing from the perspective of one who has walked through grief during this season. Over the past few years, God has really opened my eyes and my heart to see those who are struggling in this season. I have a number of friends who have lost parents in the past few weeks, and I’ve been praying for them.

      I hope your Christmas holds smiles and the sense of God’s presence with you, Gene.

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  14. Jeanne, I’m sorry for your community’s loss. Your words are tender, and I have a feeling you’re one of those who blesses others with secret prayers when you sense they’re suffering. It’s hard to know what to do or say for someone who has recently suffered such a great loss–but we can give them a hug, and we can pray. And that’s way better than saying the wrong thing (I’ve been on both ends of that).
    Blessings of peace to you & your family ~ Wendy

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