There are only nine days until Christmas. It is officially Christmas time! (Like, seriously… my sister’s been counting down the days for literally three months. But still.)
But just because it’s Christmas time doesn’t mean that our troubles will really go “miles away,” like the song says. Some of us aren’t feeling very merry this year. Or maybe it would be better to say that we all have things that we’re struggling with as we approach December 25th. Those things, even if they’re small things, will try to sneak in and steal our joy.
Elisabeth Elliot defined suffering as having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. Maybe you don’t have something that you want this Christmas… like love, or acceptance, or joy, or peace, or something less abstract, like a friend or a job.
Or maybe you have something you don’t want… like a trial, or discouragement, or loneliness, or a homework assignment (for those of us who are high-schoolers), or even a certain season in life.
But the world doesn’t always notice your suffering, be it small or large. It goes right on with the “joy” of Christmas. And you are swept along.
The other day I wrote about how Jesus’ resurrection is the real good news of Christmas, and how we ought not be too busy to reflect on the gospel. Today, I want to give us a different reminder as we approach Christmas:
God is with us.
I don’t like to be cliche. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times. But have you stopped to think about it? Go ahead, stop and think about it. Right now.
Whoa. It gives you chills, doesn’t it? God is with us.
This is the message of Christmas. Jesus came to die and rise again for our sin. He was Emmanuel, God with us. And He still is!
When Jesus was on earth, He was fully man (and fully God, at the same time—talk about things too wonderful for me). He experienced all of our human weakness. As it says in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
A few nights ago, I was reading in (where else?) Deuteronomy, chapter 7. When I reached verse 21, I stopped short. Here’s what it says:
“You shall not dread them, for the Lord your God is in your midst, a great and awesome God.”
It made me think of Christmas. Our God is the great and awesome God. You want proof? Go read Job, chapters 38-41, where God is questioning Job. I won’t quote all of it here, but I will give you some highlights:
- “Have you ever in your life commanded the morning, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?” (Job 38:12-13)
- “Who has put wisdom in the innermost being, or given understanding to the mind?” (Job 38:36)
- “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, stretching his wings toward the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?” (Job 39:26-27)
Job’s answer? “I know that You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted… Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:23-3). Because while we can’t do all these things, God can.
So, I repeat: Our God is the great and awesome God. And He is in our midst. God is with us. Do you see how this relates to our suffering?
Baby Jesus was born in a manger. We know the story well. But we have to realize that He was (and is) so much more than a baby. He’s the great and awesome God, the One who commands the morning.He’s the Creator, the God of the Universe. He’s the all-powerful, all-knowing God.
And yet He came to us.
That reminds me of another verse in Job. “What is man that You magnify him, and that You are concerned about him, that you examine him every morning and try him every moment?” (7:17-18) Our God, the great and awesome God, came to us. Lowly, sinful humans, and yet the God of the universe loved us enough to send His Son.
That’s really what Christmas speaks of to me. Love. Great, incredible, awesome love.
Love that came to experience our weaknesses. Love that came to feel our pain. Love that came to heal our wounds and free us from our bondage and take away our sin.
Love that came to redeem our suffering.
We all suffer, some in ways much deeper than others. But no matter who you are, Jesus came to redeem your suffering through His death on the cross and His resurrection. By His wounds, we are healed. He is Love.
He is Emmanuel, God with us.
That’s something to think about this Christmas.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Any thoughts? I’d love to hear from you! 🙂 And may you all have a wonderful Christmas!