This year there are added reasons to the normal reasons I struggle this time of the year. At first it was our soon departure from this town and these people that I've grown to love over the last few months and the unknown of our upcoming mystery months. Then tragedy struck and my heart broke for the families of Newtown, CT - I've hugged my 7 year old more in the last week or so grieving for those parents and others that lost loved ones. Then today my heart is broken for the families in Webster, NY as more chaos erupted so close to one of our former homes. I grieve also because I found out today that Jeanette, a sweet girl I went to school with at two of the three colleges I attended and often shared rides with to and from New York on breaks, passed away unexpectedly yesterday morning.
Tonight, after dinner, I sat and played Christmas Carols on our keyboard for a little bit. Once I got through most of the Christmas songs I flipped a few pages ahead (I like Christmas songs but Easter songs are my favorite!) and came across the hymn "Man of Sorrows" by Phillip Bliss and it comforted me, helping to remind me that Jesus knows the pain we feel. It made me think of Isaiah 53, that passage written hundreds of years before the first Christmas but so clearly predicts the events of the first Easter weekend...
He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. [He's been there - He knows grief beyond what we could ever imagine!]Maybe you are struggling this Christmas season to find joy and are overwhelmed by the burden of the sorrows you bear. Look to Jesus, the Man of Sorrows. He is the only true source of joy. He understands your sorrows and wants to carry them for you.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.[Our sorrows weigh Him down - we don't carry them alone!]
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God's paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away.
No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. [This part reminds me of the many whose lives have been cut short midstream recently... Jesus' life was as well.]
But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. [Who else can say that they have done no wrong? No one.]
But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man's grave.
But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and cause him grief. [Another one of those things I totally can't understand - how God can see it as a good plan to crush Jesus and cause Him grief but I know that so often it has been a good plan for Him to crush me and cause me grief. Oh Lord, help me to trust what I know about You and not look on my circumstances!]
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. [I don't know what will be accomplished by all this anguish lately but I know that my salvation was accomplished by Christ's anguish and for that I am so grateful. I know that He is at work and He will accomplish something from all this anguish that is being experienced this Christmas season.]
And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. [THANK YOU JESUS!]
(Isaiah 53:3-11 NLT)
Once again, my favorite quote from Andrew Murray comes back to remind me...“Man of Sorrows,” what a name"Man of Sorrows" written by Phillip Bliss
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
In time of trouble, say, "First, he brought me here. It is by his will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest."
Next, "He will keepme here in his love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as his child."
Then say, "He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons he intends me to learn, and working in me the grace he means to bestow."
And last, say, "In his good time he can bring me out again. How and when, he knows."
Therefore, say, "I am here (1) by God's appointment, (2) in his keeping, (3) under his training, (4) for his time." ~Andrew Murray.
SO thankful for my Man of Sorrows. "For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. " Hebrews 4:15-16 Amplified
Lord, we are at a time of need. Help me to draw fearlessly, confidently, and boldly to Your throne of grace. Thank You for the grace and mercy I always find there. Help me to trust You even when there are circumstances I can't understand. Thank You for Jesus - the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief - and for the reminder that You are with me and that You understand sorrows. You are in control and have a good plan, even if it is more painful than the plan I'd choose. Help me to trust You more. I love you. Thank You, Thank You so much for Jesus.