Friday, December 23, 2016

With Us and For Us

Tonight, my friend's church had a Blue Christmas service.  This is how they described it: For many, Christmas can be a time of difficulty as they go through mourning while others are so cheerful.  The good news is that this pain is exactly why God sent His son to us.  To suffer with us and for us.  If you, or someone you know struggles during the holiday season, come join us for Blue Christmas.

How very tender it is to care for those who mourn and ache through the harsh juxtaposition of this bright season.

Before I met Patrick, I didn't love Christmas.  I felt particularly lonely at Christmastime, and dreamed about spending the holiday holed up somewhere with good books and good food, where I could at least be left alone in peace.  I wasn't mourning, but I was hurting, and the dullness in my heart clashed with the merriment of Christmas.

But the true Christmas story isn't all shimmer and song.  It holds the deepest of hope, yes, but that hope came cradled in a poor manger in a dark night.

The Christmas story is bloody with tragedy - Herod demanded the murder of all males two years old and younger, because he feared for his throne when he heard the King had been born.
Indescribable sorrow.

And it isn't without loneliness.  Joseph and Mary and Jesus fled to Egypt for refuge from the slaughter, leaving home and family far behind as long as Herod was in power.

And even fear. Foreshadows of the cross rippled across Mary's awareness, when the prophet Simon told her Jesus would be opposed, and a sword would pierce her own soul.

If you are heavy with sorrow at this season, friend, I pray that you will sink into this story and see all that Jesus came for.  He came to suffer with us and for us.  He didn't come to heal those who are well, but those who are sick.  He didn't come to comfort those who rejoice, but those who mourn.  Yes.  Immanuel, God with us.  God with us, always, but particularly in our suffering.

May He reach you in your loss, in your fear, in your tragedy.  May you find rest and peace and comfort in His presence as you grieve, as you suffer, as you ache.

God with us, friends.

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