Struggles are real. They can be heart-wrenching and painful. They can steal our hope, rob our joy and put us into despair. They can make us question our purpose, seek after solace or not fully live.
December seems to intensify our struggles. Winter is upon us and things appear a bit darker. Efforts need to multiply to stay above ground. Busyness crowds out the peace in our hearts. Christmas is coming and things like family dysfunction, loneliness, financial issues, grief, addictions, loss all seem magnified during this season.
This may not seem the type of story you expect to read going into Christmas week. It is a representation of the dichotomy of my heart and flesh, my spirit and soul as I feel the pain of these worldly things and sense that from people around me. Those longing to know the hope of Christmas but in their heart and flesh they fail. But this is exactly the reason that Jesus came. It is to get in the muck of all of this struggle and to meet your heart. He knows where you are at and yet He loves you.
He was born in a stable, have you been in one? Average temperatures in Bethlehem in December are around 14 degrees, so that would mean dung is not frozen! I know all the arguments that this may not have been the actual time of Jesus’ birth but just go with me here. He came in the middle of all of the crap and smelly animals in the most humble of beginnings so He could walk right into ours. “This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”Luke 2:12 NIV
Are our struggles real? Absolutely! Are they too hard for Jesus? Absolutely not. Max Lucado said,” God’s answer for the hurting heart is not a promise of the absence of pain but a promise of His Presence, to be with you, to offset the struggles. He has guaranteed to walk with us every step of our life. He just wants you to let Him love you.”
My heart wrestles with trusting Jesus and the inability to give enough to the needs around me. It fights with the commercialism of Christmas and the wanting to bless those I love. It tears apart for the desire for simplicity and peace and the draw to constantly be doing something, anything. Yet in these struggles I keep being drawn back to the manger, to the heart of a mother who had no idea really of where this privilege and honour of following God and being obedient would take her heart. How the blessing of her son would also squeeze her heart to brokenness and journey to eternal hope.
So it is with us as we choose to behold the baby in a manger, as we step in the brokenness of this world, our hearts will be squeezed. We will be stretched,our struggles will be real, our God will step in. Despite the way we may ‘feel’ in the midst of all of this there is a purpose behind all that we face. Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. See who He is promised to be in the prophecy of Isaiah, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace!
In all of these things is an answer to what you need. He has not forsaken you, He deeply loves you. He has promised a Yes and Amen and provision to your need. Choose to keep your eyes on the promise of the baby, the hope of a Saviour, the ministering of a Counsellor, the power of the Almighty, the love of a Father, peace that surpasses understanding and Eternal Life.
In it all as you keep your eyes on Him, do one thing lest you do nothing. Invite someone to church to hear of His hope in their struggles, pay for someone’s coffee, give generously of your money if you are able, listen to where God is directing your heart to give, spend time with someone who is lonely, hurting, addicted, incarcerated, elderly, family. Be His love and hope to those that need it especially if you are struggling yourself. There is no healing balm like giving of yourself. There is no greater thing than sharing the love of Jesus.