It’s the Christmas season and I’m thinking about how wrong everything seems—my husband David hospitalized in pain for three days with no solution in sight; our pastor trying to get healthier at the gym drops dead last Thursday, just as he is about to launch a new ministry of church planting; my mother-in-law actively dying in Florida and we not able to go down to be with her; my friend Natalie praying constantly for a husband to partner with in missionary work and not finding one.
The world is full of things that seem all wrong. The Christian world! I am not talking about things going badly among the folks in town who don’t care two hoots for God: I would expect life to be rocky for them. And yet, often it is not:
“… I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore, pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment” (Psalm 73:3-6).
But on the other hand, the Son of God was rejected from an inn and put in a feeding trough. And that was just the beginning of things that seemed all wrong in His life and ministry. His own family thought Him mad (Mark 3:21). John the Baptist came to the point of wondering if Jesus was even the One (Matthew 11:3). The apostles felt the need to lecture their Rabbi about his methods (Matthew 16:21-22).
The fact that Jesus’ life seemed all wrong at the time gives me much relief and hope. For now I know that we are to expect the same in our lives:
“… In the world you will have tribulation …” (John 16:33).
That tribulation will take many forms: mysterious illnesses, deaths that seem to have no purpose, prayers that seem unanswered. But during this Christmas season, whatever pain may be in your life, I hope you will join me in remembering that we are just in the middle, and it is messy in the middle. You see how the life of Jesus turned out, so take heart and keep your eye on the glory that is to come.