“He was despised and rejected by men,
A man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.”Isaiah 53:3 NIV
The faint sound of an infant’s cries, intermingled with the bleating of sheep, draws you toward the opening where the flickering of lantern light emits. The air, pungent with the lingering scent of animal waste, dampness and mustiness, and the sweet smell of straw, fills your nostrils as you step into the enclosure. A donkey stamps its feet and swishes its tail, startled by your entrance, and the sheep shy away, huddling together. In the center of it all stands a stone feeding trough filled with some straw, encompassed by a pale teenage girl, worn out from giving birth and her shell-shocked fiancé. Nestled in this makeshift cradle lies the source of the helpless cries, a newborn Hebrew baby wrapped in strips of cloth. He is an ordinary-looking Jewish baby boy. There is nothing striking or unusual about him that denotes royalty, but you know He is THE King. This is the Almighty Creator of everything, resting helplessly in straw and rags. Your God, clothed in human flesh.
God is a God of empathy.
He came and dwelt among us, experiencing all the same pains, temptations, emotions, thoughts, and challenges we do, so we could know He understands our battles.
He is God, but not a distant God. He is not a god made of stone but one who feels pain and understands sorrow, who has felt the sting of betrayal, the weariness of poverty, and the frustration of being misjudged. As followers of Christ, we celebrate the head-shaking reality that the Lord has experienced everything we have, so our relationship with Him could be one of great intimacy.
Advent is a time for acknowledging the surpassing greatness of this miracle which occurred over 2000 years ago. Emmanuel, God WITH us, in every sense. Then, now and forever, if we are believers in Christ Jesus.
Despite what this Christmas looks like for us, He knows and cares. He is right here weeping with us, holding us up, strengthening us, sprinkling our path with moments of grace or celebrating with us.
Let’s take some time this week to look for that grace, look for Him and invite Him into our Advent season, whatever it holds.
As stress levels rise, breathe and remember you are not alone (John 14:18 NIV).
When emotions overwhelm, pause and recall that Jesus wept(John 11:35), then whisper a prayer for help.
If disappointment fills your heart and mind, take a moment to refocus your thoughts and hopes on Him, knowing He understands (Matthew 26:34).
Stop and sit in His presence for refreshment and strength when you become weary with doing (Matthew 11:28).
He is faithful. He is compassionate.
He is waiting for you to come to the manger, and remember.
Let us celebrate our empathetic Lord!
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