..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Pain at Christmas, Pain in the Christmas Story

In the Christmas story, Mary's obedience to God
brought her pain: the pain of false accusation,
the pain of the humiliation of having her baby
born in a barn by the side of the road, and
the pain of childbirth, itself. Yet, out of
Mary's pain, Jesus was born into the world.

Pain, it seems, can often be the very kind of
contraction that makes new life burst forth.
Pain means something is being stretched out
of place, set out of its accustomed order,
made aware of its lack. Sometimes we need
that so we can see what God really wants from
us and where He really wants to bring us.

Pain points out the problem, focuses our
attention, so God can birth new life into
our death.

Jesus obeyed God and it brought Him pain. This,
too, is part of the Christmas story. The journey
from, shall we say, God's bosom, to the bosom of
Mary, may have been the easiest part of the journey
earthward for Jesus but nonetheless costly.
For Him, it would be a long, long journey of
obedience. Soon after His birth, and
throughout His life, He would be a hunted and oft
times rejected man. A "man of sorrows" and
"acquainted with grief."

His pain was not for His own wrongdoing, but for ours.
For us he endured the pain, suffered the humiliation,
willingly submitted to the Father's plan, so that we
might be ransomed. Out of Jesus' pain, humiliation,
and false accusation, the eternal Church of the Living
God was born.

Our obedience in the face of pain, even pain of our
own making, can bring new life. We should not waste
our pain. This Christmas, let us be found to be obedient
to God amidst, and maybe even because, of our pain.

God does not allow pain as a plan to "get back at us"
for being poor, miserable excuses of humanity. He
allows pain, allowed it in the life of Jesus, to get us
back to Himself. He can use pain to birth something
of His life in our broken lives. All we have to do is let

So this Christmas you may find yourself in deep pain
for any number of reasons. It does not matter why it is
there or where it comes from, so much as what you
allow God to do with it. Offer your pain to God, and ask
Him what life is meant to be born from it. If you cannot
even imagine such a thing: that God would be willing,
and able, to use your pain to bring forth new life, then
your God is too small.

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