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Christ is coming, and I can’t see Him

It’s Advent, the season of expectation and preparation for Christmas, our first Christmas without Red Twin, and the two year anniversary of her cancer diagnosis. Christmas Eve two years ago we were in Iringa for a conference when Red Twin WhatsApped to say the diagnosis was in and it was definitely cancer. No big deal, cos she was young and fit and they thought it would be simple to cut it out of her. But once they got in, it was a different story. Two months later she was given a month to live. Thanks to the brilliant Australian medical system and many prayers, she made it another 13. And now here I am prepping for the same conference.

The thing I should say next is that the incarnation is a comfort to me in my grief. ‘Emmanuel’ means ‘God with us’. In Jesus, God enters our world, to be part of the muck with us, experiencing sadness, grief, anger, frustration, exhaustion and loneliness. Christmas celebrates that moment, an extraordinary expression of God’s love for humankind.

All of which I know to be true. None of which I can see.

It’s like God is shielded from me at the moment. Like I am in a fog, and He could be standing right in front of my face and I would not see Him. In many ways, He is right there. Our Christmas music is on, we’ve been doing our Christmas activities like the Jesse Tree, I’ve been reading an Advent devotional. The gospel of the incarnation has been before my eyes.

But it has not comforted me.

Because for all the expectation of ‘God with us’, what has dominated my heart is that she is not with me. And it’s not just that she is somewhere else; it’s that she is with Him. Which makes me jealous.

It’s not that I want to be with Him too (yes, I know I should be longing for that but I’m telling you what I feel, not what I should feel.) It’s that He’s with her and I’m not. I am so so jealous of Him that he gets to be with her and I don’t.

She was always more His than she was mine. He is her Creator, the one who sustained her life, who knows every hair on her head, who mourned every cancerous cell and degree of muscle tone lost. He was with her where I could not be, in Central Asia, and He brought her comfort that I could not. He is the one who brought purpose to her living and security to her dying. So I’m not disputing His right to her.

But He gets to see the funny way she half-purses and half-licks her lips when she’s thinking about food. And I don’t. It’s not even a particularly affectionate memory that I have of her, but it’s part of who she was. It’s something He sees that I don’t, so I feel jealous. And it doesn’t feel like he understands it. How can Jesus know the pain of that jealousy since He is with her? He’s not missing out like I am!

Of course the incarnation is about God’s assuming of the human condition rather than Him having every human experience. But ‘God with us’ doesn’t feel true to me as an individual; He feels just as far as she is.

Categories: Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

3 replies

  1. Have been thinking of you lots as you go through all these ‘firsts’. You so well describe the blind, numbing impact of grief, how it dulls our spirit and senses as we stumble through it.

  2. Thank you Tamie. My Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 20th December 2003. I was living in London. Love Actually had just been released and was everywhere. I remember floating through Christmas and the following weeks like a ghost. Mum died new years day 2009 – again her death was all mingled up with Christmas. Christmas was never the same again and I suspect it never will be for me. For me, over time the dull Christmastime pain and hollowness has been joined with this deep rich feeling of of being human which I conclude is linked to the intimate family time we had with Mum just before she died, and the way we were able to conduct her funeral. Upon reflection, I think this is how God has been working in and through it all.

    Your words reminded me of a song by Bruce Cockburn and of a particular line, “When you’re caught up in this longing all the beauties of the earth don’t mean a thing”

    Don’t Feel Your Touch

    In front of a newborn moon pushing up its glistening dome
    I kiss these departing companions – take the next step alone
    I just said goodnight to the closest thing i have to home
    Oh – and the night grows sharp and hollow
    As a junkie’s craving vein
    And I don’t feel your touch, again.

    To be held in the heart of a friend is to be a king
    But the magic of a lover’s touch is what makes my spirit sing
    When you’re caught up in this longing all the beauties of the earth don’t mean a thing
    Oh – and the night grows clear and empty
    As a lake of acid rain
    And I don’t feel your touch, again.

    The last light of day crept away like a drunkard after gin
    A hint of chanted prayer now whispers from the fresh night wind
    To this shattered heart and soul held together by habit and skin
    And this half-gnawed bone of apprehension
    Buried in my brain
    As I don’t feel your touch, again.

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