Devotional Thoughts for Caregivers

Pain - Part of the Christmas Spirit Mon, Dec 22 2014

Ironically, in those times when it least feels like Christmas, it might be most like Christmas. When nothing seems comfortable, or normal, or familiar, we are closer to experiencing the purpose of Christmas than at any other time. We are nearer the true Christmas spirit than we could ever imagine.

Our Lord must have been uncomfortable when He left everything that was eternally familiar and took on human nature. He who had known only glory and absolute perfection suddenly found Himself living among sinners in a fallen world. There was nothing comfortable, normal, or familiar about this. This move was not a step up for Him; it was an infinite leap down. Yet this was Christmas.

Mary, like any normal young woman, must have had dreams of what her marriage to Joseph and their life together would be like. Then came the angelic visitation. Yes, she was the blessed one, the mother of our Lord. The angelic visitation and the divine honor bestowed on her were nothing short of incredible. But that is the heavenly perspective. From all earthly viewpoints she had been unfaithful to her betrothed husband, Joseph, who was too good a man to divorce her. Normalcy for Mary was but a distant memory from the moment of her supernatural conception on. Who could identify with her pain? Who could understand, really? Who would quiet the gossip, the speculation, the finger-pointing?

When Mary discovered that Herod had murdered all the male babies in Bethlehem, trying to destroy her special child, how do you think she felt? Mary and Joseph were far from family and familiarity and any kind of comfort zone. Somehow the words “Merry Christmas” just don't fit their experience.

Yet, the angels were filled with joy! And Mary proclaimed that God has blessed her and she praised Him for His mercy (Luke 1:46-56). Immanuel was coming. God was visiting our planet! Everything about the true story of Christmas points us to a God who cares about us far more than we can ever understand. He left perfection and peace to enter chaos on a divine rescue mission, bringing us salvation and hope.

Life isn't perfect – and it never will be until He comes again to make all things right. But this isn't the end of the story. Our heavenly visitor reminds us that another, far greater world exists. Our God not only left His world to enter ours so we would know He loves us, but so that He could make us ready for our new home – our eternal home.

A powerful way to appreciate having a Savior is to imagine what it would be like not to have one. Imagine that your pain and suffering have no real meaning. Your short life is simply ruled by fate. Wrongs will never be made right, truth is relative, and hope for a better world is just dreaming. Your silent suffering and hidden pain have no divine audience; they are yours to bear alone. There exists, quite simply no hope beyond this life.

But we do have reason to be joyful. A Savior was born to us, and our suffering touches His merciful and gracious heart. He was not only moved by our suffering, He came to join us in it. He lowered Himself to suffer what we suffer, to feel what we feel, to cry with us, hunger with us, thirst with us, and live with us. The Almighty God made Himself vulnerable to all the pain of human life. And to keep us from eternal suffering, He came to die for us, taking our place.

One of my greatest joys is in knowing that there is a God and that He is righteous and loving. My Savior is absolute truth, utterly pure of heart, perfect in mind, infinite in knowledge, completely holy, untainted and eternally unchangeable in His nature. That this God loves me never creases to amaze me. So my hope can shine through any pain confusion, and suffering that comes my way, because I know my Savior cares for me. He who records each of my tears (Psalm 56:8) came to love me to death. My hope cannot be quenched, because I know my God loves me even through suffering.

This spirit of Christmas goes beyond trees, decorations, songs, and presents to speak to our true condition. And to this we can honestly say, “Merry Christmas.”

- Schaeffer, Dan. Excerpts from – Our Daily Bread: Finding Peace at Christmas

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