Recently a friend challenged me on my reading of a popular devotional by Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (2004, Thomas Nelson Inc.) Since I have referenced at least two of her daily devotions in this blog, I thought I should discuss the book here. Here is my reply:
In the wee hours of Christmas morning, it is.
My body isn’t happy and my heart feels a little smaller than usual.
I wonder when this or that will change: when the prayers will be answered?
Sadly, some did not say hello when I made it to church for the first time in a month.
Crying could be in the cards tonight, or at least a little pouting. And what would that accomplish anyways?
I have so much goodness in my life, outside of this illness and its related difficulties. About these I have written time and time again.
Why is it so easy to forget the blessings? The roller coaster of life when it gets complicated too easily pushes my focus off of what is most important again and again.
Put the robe back on, take it off, no put it back on again as the sweat episode comes and goes; am I hungry or is it low grade nausea this time? Oh yeah, the tic attacks have started again.
There is no end to this kind of thinking in my own strength. I go on about it here only to illustrate that even as a believer in Jesus Christ, I am tempted, taunted by the darkness of this world. Perhaps the difference between me and someone who does not believe will be what happens next. Others may attempt to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” and cheer up with positive self talk. Still more will use a substance or dark distraction to erase the reality that can be so difficult to face. Those comforts will be temporary and fail to something else that must replace it eventually. Well this Christmas morning, these will not be me. I will turn somewhere else.
But wait, can a baby born in a filthy village to a teenage girl and out of wedlock possibly comfort me in my anguish? Even if He spoke wise words, did countless miracles, and 500 people testified that he rose from the dead, does that have anything to do with me tonight? What if His life, death, and resurrection were perfectly predicted 500 or so years earlier without the benefit of the internet, does that mean anything for me or for you either? And if He was part of God, the three persons of the one entity that is “God,” does that mean that He had anything to do with me being created? So if He did create me, did He have really some purpose or plan for my life that included allowing me to get Lyme Disease?
Guess what? The answers are yes. Jesus is for the “wounded.” Jesus is for this wounded woman who doesn’t feel so hot. Jesus is for those who do good and those who do not. Jesus is for those who think they are good but can never really be good enough because of our shared human condition: we are all flawed by sin. Jesus is for the sinner and those affected by sin in this fallen, imperfect world. Jesus is the answer now and always. And when I lift my eyes from my limited life and fix them on He Who is infinite, seek His forgiveness, claim that He is Lord, my eternal life comes into view. This trial of illness will give way to an eternity in heaven with Him: and there will be no more pain, weeping, or sorrow. Yeah God! How do I know this? He promised it in His Word!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:1-3)
The answers are all in the Bible and the Bible is God, one and the same. How does that work? Finding the answer to that begins in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the Creator of all people, places, things, events, and spiritual entities. Some go to His Word first. Some cry out to Him before realizing Who is out there listening and waiting for them with perfect love. Some find Him through a person who knows Him and draws a bridge to the heart of Christ by his or her actions, tenderness, words. In the end, we can all find Him if we but seek Him. Don’t stop with that spiritual friend or influence either. He, she, or it will fail us at some point. Trust God to be perfect; just love people (spoken first by my former Pastor, Bill Hybels). Jesus will not, never, ever fail us. Jesus is for the wounded. He “knows” the cries of our hearts as He was also wounded physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually too. He does care about our sorrows. He came to save us from the consequences of the sin of this world. If all this wasn’t true, He would have never left the heaven realms to be born into this world only to die a tortuous death on a cross. Would you leave paradise for me? Er, no.
Tonight my heart is transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2). Thank you Jesus for coming to save me (Luke 19:10). Thank you for watching over me (Psalm121:5) and ensuring that the trials will not be wasted (Jeremiah 29:11). Thank you for caring about me (1 Peter 5:7) and taking care of my true needs (Luke 12:22-30). Thank you for Your gift of salvation and eternity with You (John 3:16). One day I know that I will be well, whole, and rejoicing in Your presence! (Psalm 30)
Merry Christmas indeed.