For some, suffering is an old friend that never seems to get the memo that you would be a lot better off without him / her in your life– a stronghold of sort.
For others, suffering is a new neighbor that abruptly moved in uninvited and is unwelcome– a tragedy, unmet expectations, loss, grief.
And we are all supposed to pretend.
Pretend like it doesn’t exist & push it aside for the sake of “Christmas”.
Presents don’t remedy the deep wounds.
Cookies, cakes, and even the best egg nog lasts for only brief moment.
The holiday bustle and rustle can cloud it for a bit, but even the best distractions cannot cure.
It lingers over all of us– yet only a few are brave enough to address it, to feel it, to invite it in.
Merry Christmas, right?
Hold on. I’m getting there.
No matter how hard a person may try to understand, how badly they may want to understand, the fact is this:
No human being can understand the suffering that is uniquely our own.
They may have gone through similar experiences. They may be able to empathize. They may hurt for you. But they don’t really know.
They don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes, in my shoes.
Only Jesus does.
This is why we celebrate; this is the story of Christmas: Jesus, son of God, Emmanuel, chose to come down to this earth and live in messy relationships with human so that they may have eternal life and peace with God. He came so that he could become a high priest that empathizes with our pain and suffering. ¹
So make no mistake: No one is familiar with our suffering like Jesus is– and he alone can redeem it, restore it, and use it for good in our lives.
One of the most beautiful facts about Christmas is that Hope was brought to life through the birth of Jesus Christ.
But we live in a broken world. And more than once, the enemy has twisted this fact and has tempted me to run with it as an excuse to live in isolation.
“I guess it’s just me and Jesus against the world.”
“He / she doesn’t get it. They never will. Why give my time and energy in a relationship with someone that doesn’t even come close to understanding some of the things I battle each day?”
I build up walls in effort to preserve the little amount of peace that I have. I don’t allow most people in, and I don’t want them in if I’m being honest.
As I processed this with a spiritual mentor of mine, she listened, empathized, and affirmed what I was feeling. But she then proceeded to remind me that Jesus spent his entire like walking with 12 men that would have no earthly idea of the amount of suffering that he would go through for their sake. And then they betrayed him. Jesus knew this, yet he didn’t live in isolation. If anything, he did the opposite. He spent the majority of his time ministering to friend, family, and strangers, allowing them to come close, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And they didn’t know. They had no idea the amount of pain Jesus was going to endure for them. They were ignorant, oblivious. They lacked understanding on all levels– even those who were closest to him.
When he wasn’t with others, what was he doing?
He was spending time with his heavenly father. Recharging with supernatural fuel that only comes through prayer and mediating on God’s truth.
If we are to live like Jesus, what does that mean for us here on earth? What are the implications for how we need to operate in relationships? Even in the midst of suffering?
We have to stop building walls. I don’t know what types of bricks make up your wall– whether it’s fear, bitterness, resentment, or a little bit of everything. But we have to stop building the walls, and work to tear them down. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of others as well.
Jesus had no walls and his love had no limits.
We need other people and other people need us. Let’s not let the enemy convince us to settle for anything less than living a life in relationship with God and other people.
We are to retreat to Jesus every moment we have. Jesus is our healer, our redeemer, our savior, our restorer of life. What I said above is true: No one will understand like Jesus does. No one knows us more intimately. No one is so familiar with our pain and suffering. So instead of running from the one who knows, who sees, who cares, and distracting ourselves with anything and everything that is within reach (or building up walls in attempts to push him away)– we must stop, take a deep breath, reach out in prayer, and rest in His presence. And we don’t lose heart.
And we don’t lose Hope– because Hope has a name, and it’s Jesus.
We must fix our eyes on the day that he promises to return and fully redeem every bit of brokenness in this world, while also remembering that he is already here with us.
“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” Psalm 37:17-21
1. Hebrews 4:15
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