Job and Christmas

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2010

JOB AND CHRISTMAS

December 25, 2010

This year the Lord took us to the book of Job. In doing this, God has many lessons for us. But one distinctive feature of the story of Job is the suffering he underwent. Before we end this year, and as we celebrate the coming of Jesus the Savior into the world, we take a look at how Christmas and the lessons of Job intersect. Redemptive suffering happened not just on the cross, but right during the time and circumstances of Jesus‚ birth.

Christmas is a season of joy, of celebration, of peace and reconciliation, of counting blessings, of great hope. As such it is very positive. But as we look closely at what happened that very first Christmas, and of course the birth of Jesus is the most positive event in the life of the world, we also realize that in the surrounding circumstances there was much suffering and pain. For Christmas to happen, God‚s instruments are called to give of themselves and to endure the suffering that comes.

The serenity of the faces of Joseph and Mary belie the difficulties they endured. Mary traveled some distance to visit her relative Elizabeth to help out with her pregnancy (Lk 1:39-40). Then, heavy with child, Mary had to travel a long distance to Bethlehem to register for the census (Lk 2:1-5). Then there was no room for them in the inn and Mary had to give birth in a manger (Lk 2:7). Then they had to flee from Herod who sought to kill the child, and took another long journey to Egypt (Mt 2:13-14). The coming of Jesus was accompanied by suffering. Such of course was redemptive suffering, to the highest degree, as Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world.

The story of Christmas is also the story of selfless giving, which is always accompanied by self-denial with its attendant pain. Mary was greatly troubled with the angel Gabriel‚s annunciation, and even though she could not quite understand what was to happen, she gave her unqualified yes (Lk 1:26-38). Joseph had his difficulty too, faced with the unexpected pregnancy of his betrothed. But he too heeded the angel‚s words and proceeded with God‚s plan (Mt 1:24). The plan of God proceeds on the assent, consent and cooperation of those called, as they give of themselves selflessly and put their trust fully in God.

Finally, Jesus is born. The King of kings, God Himself, has come into the world. But who are there to witness this momentous event? Only Joseph and Mary, the magi (Mt 2:11), and the lowly shepherds (Lk 2:15-16). But wait. There was also „a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God‰ (Lk 2:13).

What then are the lessons that Christmas has for us?

One, we will suffer in the world, especially as we do God‚s work, most especially as we bring the Savior into the lives of people in the world, but such suffering is redemptive. As such, as is fitting for Christmas, no matter how much we have suffered, we rejoice.

Two, in responding to God‚s call, we are to give of ourselves selflessly, not counting the cost. We are to deny ourselves. And like Job, we do not need God to explain why He does things or why He allows us to be afflicted. We simply look to His awesome majesty, and put our trust fully in Him who is just and righteous.

Three, as we do our work for God, even as we are able to accomplish great things for Him, we might not be recognized or appreciated, and we might even be criticized, maligned, oppressed, persecuted. We must not look to personal glory or acclaim. We must not be discouraged if there are only a few people around us who appreciate us. We should simply realize that, even as others fail to give approval, God knows what we do. And God, together with the heavenly host, rejoices.

Have a blessed Christmas.

*     *     *
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: