Christmas and the holiday season are not always times that are cheery and bright. Loneliness and loss have a sharper edge then because they contrast with our longings to have Christmas be a time of warmth and love and joy. Suffering and grief can also inflict a terrible sense of alienation on our hearts. We can feel as if we don’t matter. But what we are going through is taken seriously by God. We are taken seriously by God. We matter to Him.
When I think of suffering in the Bible, I think of Job as most people do. David, Jeremiah, and Joseph also come to mind. We see glimpses of the anguish of Joseph as he is sold into Egypt and later imprisoned, but Job, David and Jeremiah left us torrents of words. In their words you feel their affliction. Their words give us a voice and can help lessen our isolation as we read them because we realize someone else has known what I experience and felt exactly as I do. I think God’s inclusion of their laments in His Word is a mark of His consolation for us as we suffer—what we are going through matters to God.
God never trivializes us or treats our pain lightly. In Job we see a man, a good man, who struggles with his doubts and his longing to trust God. Job’s horrific circumstances drive him to grapple with life at its depths as he asks why. God answers Job in the closing chapters of the book, not by explaining why he has suffered so greatly, but by giving Job an understanding of who He is. As He questions Job and calls him to observe Creation, Job realizes that God’s wisdom and power and justice are matters far beyond Job’s ken. There are no glib answers here—there is a call to trust. No glib answers means the horror of Job’s circumstances is not trivialized, and neither is Job. Neither are our circumstances trivialized, and neither are we. We matter to God.
Peter encourages us,
“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7
I have a New Testament in which that last phrase is literally translated as, “because to him it matters concerning you.”2 He cares. You matter. Who you are and what you are going through right here, right now, matters to God.
God calls us to trust Him. But how can we learn to trust God in the midst of loneliness and sometimes horrible circumstances? Os Guinness’ words in his book, Doubt, have helped me immensely.
“Not surprisingly it is those whose faith in God is anchored in the incarnation—God become flesh, crucified, risen—whose faith can pass through the fires of suffering. For there is no question however deep or painful which cannot be trusted with the God who is the Father of Jesus Christ.”1
“Anchored in the incarnation—God become flesh, crucified, risen—” “no question however deep or painful which cannot be trusted with the God who is the Father of Jesus Christ.” This is why I can trust God. He sent His Son to die in my place. Such great love brings me to continue to trust Him when I hurt and don’t know the why of my days or understand the times of my suffering. I’m not just talking to you—I’m also talking to me because I’ve cried my own Christmas tears.
For all of you who have Christmas tears this year, may you know the depths of God’s love through the gift of His Son.
Hope is here.
And remember, Christ was born that day so that one day there will come a day when we will see and know:
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”Revelation 21:3b–4
Depression-loss of loved one: I can no longer find the source, but I believe this photograph is in the Public Domain.
Miedo ajeno, RayNata: Public Domain.
1Os Guinness, Doubt (Lion Publishing plc, England: 1976; Third Edition,1987) 212.
2Alfred Marshall, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids MI:1958, 1959) 921.
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