Four Christmas Seasons Ago

By David Castro

It was just a normal day. We were taking a slow Sunday evening at home, the kids were all sleeping, and we were lying on the couch together in front of our newly installed wood stove. The stove’s internal fan was on, humming sleepily, and the warm air was sedating. One lamp, the fireplace, and my laptop provided the only light in the room. In 30 minutes I was to be at a friend’s house to enjoy fellowship and laughter but I wanted to spend a bit more time with my wife before heading out.  She had been weary schooling our oldest, taking care of a toddler and also Alivia, our newborn. She rested her head on my lap as I typed away on my laptop.

Eventually, Heather got up and checked the kitchen for tidiness before heading up the stairs for bed. “Well,” I thought, “I’m supposed to be there in less than a minute so I’ll be late. I think Heather was blessed though, so who cares if I’m late to hang out with a few friends.”

A very sudden, and loud, yell from upstairs. “Must be a cricket in our room.” Another one. “That’s unusual, maybe a bunch of them?” By this time, I have shut my laptop and turned toward the stairs. Another one. “Something’s wrong!” I am now running towards the stairs as my mind raced through possibilities. Another one.  In the grave uncertainty of what awaits me, I feel a cold darkness come over my soul and life becomes disconnected; I am passively observing it through two small windows in my head. Another one. As this last cry of alarm comes from upstairs my legs shut off like a light switch, and I am unable to make the turn to go up the stairs and fall, sprawling in front of the landing. Shocked and humbled by my unexpected physical response, I begin praying a quick prayer for bodily strength, a clear strong mind, and courage as I quickly pick myself up and drive my legs up the stairs as fast as I can.

First 3 stairs. Is someone up there? Am I in for a fight? Next 3 stairs. I hear, “Dave, she’s dead!” Darkness is billowing around me like waves. Next 3 stairs. “She’s dead! Dave, Alivia is dead!” More waves of darkness. I begin to think how, what, why as I run down the hall to our bedroom…

I held her as her face was growing colder. A stream of thoughts began to cycle through my mind: “God is not absent right now. He is near and somehow involved in these details. Just that I believe that with clear faith is proof of that. He is good…He is sovereign…He is our Father.  He will help us. What do I do right now. What do I say to my wife right now?”

The world was different.  Many things happened and many things changed on the night our daughter passed away from SIDS.  At the moment I want to share where I found comfort.

Somehow my reading in Scripture did not completely pause that day.  Earlier that year I had soaked in the theology of the Incarnation, reading both Knowing God by J. I. Packer, and The Children of the Living God by Sinclair Ferguson multiple times. Remembering the transcendence and earthiness of God becoming man sparked a new hunger for a connection with that Divine One who was made like us. For almost a year after that tragic November evening I could not move out of Matthew 26, reading and re-reading it.  I found that there is something specific about Christ in his anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane that helps me appreciate the Incarnation–the Son of God taking on the human body, the human condition. This helps me to appreciate His comfort and to look for it, because I know He is familiar with our infirmities, sorrows and weaknesses.

The scenes in that garden and following are like a well of darkness, and yet I can draw from it infinite empathy and comfort. Jesus knows our pain. He truly knows it from experience, feeling every texture of pain and sorrow and foreboding. Because of that, Christ can experientially empathize, weep, and work on our behalf to accomplish our good–-somehow interwoven as one piece with his purposes. However black the darkness that I experience may seem, his experience will always be the deepest and darkest, not only because it was a payment for humanity’s sin, but because it established him as our perfect High Priest who has truly known all of our infirmities.

“For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15,16).

So, this season many delight in the majesty of a baby born as the ultimate king and eternal redeemer of those who trust in his salvation from sin and death.  I will humbly join them. But each Christmas season I am also gratefully reminded of the beauty and humility of this Suffering Servant who did not count equality with God something to be held on to, but made himself a man, and took on the very form of a slave so that he might experience a life of suffering obedience and become not only my Savior but also my perfect and empathetic intercessor, comforter, and help. Thank you, Jesus.

castro familyMore about David

David is a very ordinary guy, married to Heather, an extraordinary wife, and a father of four beautiful kids. Five kids actually.  They have one in Heaven. Beautiful Alivia was taken early and changed his family’s world forever.  David is a full time technology salesperson by day.   David, his wife,  Heather, and their daughters, Mckenna, Selah, Alivia, Adelyn and Hailey, currently calls Oak Ridge, TN  home before transitioning to Nashville later this year.

David plans to begin blogging at Davidaaroncastro.com.

 

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One Comment to “Four Christmas Seasons Ago”

  1. […] **This story was posted in Trillia Newbell’s Women of God Magazine, in the “Man Corner.”  You can see that article here: http://www.wogmagazine.com/2012/12/four-christmas-seasons-ago/ […]