As sweet as life and this season can be, for many, it can feel just the opposite. The cherished memories we once had of the season take a different taste as we face the first Christmas since the divorce, or since dad died or since the new job took us away from family and lifelong friends.

But just as the spring comes from the winter and the seed goes into the ground, so we will go through a valley, a low place and into the dark. There will be suffering in this life; it’s part of the deal of being human. And as such, there is a savoring that comes in the suffering. Too often, we rush to get to the resolution, to the healing. We try to climb out of the valley before learning the lesson that brought us into it. In our hurry to get away from the discomfort, we cut out a vital part of our journey.

These are the experiences that complete our existence. These are places where God sits beside us, where God’s family comes alongside and sits with us amongst the ashes (see Job’s friends in Job 2:11-13). These experiences, although not be enjoyed, are to be savored. They are meant to teach us about holiness, about the fleeting nature of this life and therefore its sacredness. They are meant to bring us into our fullness, into our humanity.

VERSE: Psalm 34

I will extol the Lord at all times;

    his praise will always be on my lips.

2 I will glory in the Lord;

    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

3 Glorify the Lord with me;

    let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

    he delivered me from all my fears.

5 Those who look to him are radiant;

    their faces are never covered with shame.

6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;

    he saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,

    and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;

    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,

    for those who fear him lack nothing.

10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,

    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

11 Come, my children, listen to me;

    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

12 Whoever of you loves life

    and desires to see many good days,

13 keep your tongue from evil

    and your lips from telling lies.

14 Turn from evil and do good;

    seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,

    and his ears are attentive to their cry;

16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,

    to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;

    he delivers them from all their troubles.

18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

    and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,

    but the Lord delivers him from them all;

20 he protects all his bones,

    not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;

    the foes of the righteous will be condemned.

22 The Lord will rescue his servants;

    no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Prayer: O God of suffering, you came as one of us. You lived and loved and lost and died just as we do. Help us to be at home with you in our suffering. Help us to not only to savor our low moments, but to press into them and find you there. Help us be human, knowing that means walking through the valleys. Help us not to rush through the valley, but to walk with you through it in your time.