A few days ago a dear young friend named Deshaun committed suicide. He was in the youth group which I helped lead in the States. This kid was always one to make you laugh. He was in middle school so he could also make you get irritated. So much energy wrapped up in a small body will do that to you. He was also loved to serve. When it came time for me to leave for Uganda he came to help at my fundraisers. In the background, he baked cookies and tied bows to help get me here. He used to love to grab a microphone and rap. Didn’t matter if the microphone was on or not, he just loved to do it. What a sweet life, now gone. Yet the pain remains, it has simply been transferred to different hearts. I know this isn’t your “normal” Merry Christmas letter. But this morning as I was sitting in my prayer room I began to journal about the piercing pain in my heart and I told Jesus how confused I was about this season being about hope fulfilled. A hope that a people group called the Israelites had for a Saviour throughout all time that became fulfilled through a King who came as a baby. There is such a pain on one side and such a joy on the other. Is that not so much of this life? Every time I sign onto Facebook, I feel this tension. So many friends posting photos of weddings, babies and what they ate for supper. And so many other friends telling me how they survived a shooting but lost friends, that another rebel group has attacked their village and they are scared, friends dying of preventable/treatable diseases. I live in this tension. My heart is so filled with joy being in Uganda. I know I am right where I am supposed to be and I feel so fulfilled and content. Yet within the same moment, there is a pain in my heart of what I see every day that never seems to go away. As I bring this tension to Jesus and ask Him why, His response is this. ‘That is why my arms were spread wide open on the cross. Because I hold all things in those hands. And sometimes they stretch so wide it doesn’t seem that one person could hold it all. But when you come to the center of the tension, you find My heart. My arms are stretched wide so that when you feel you are being torn in two from the chaos, you fall into them and I embrace you. You are meant to live in My heart, not the chaos.’ I don’t know if this is a traditional ‘Merry Christmas’ season for you of joy, lights and carols. Or if this time of year brings painful memories that don’t seem to go away. For me right now, my heart is breaking. So come join me in His arms. That is where we find peace. Which is what this season was truly meant for. Our hope has been fulfilled.