God's Promise for the Pain of Christmas
“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13 NIV).
We often have an idealized and romanticized picture of the days leading up to the first Christmas.
We see Christmas cards and nativity scenes, and we assume those days were stress-free. But that’s far from how those involved in the first Christmas actually felt.
The very first Christmas didn’t start out as a merry time for most of those involved. The news that Jesus was coming stressed everyone out.
- Mary was confused and worried. An angel had told her that she would give birth to the Son of God. She didn’t know what would happen to her engagement. Her future seemed bleak.
- Joseph was hurt and brokenhearted. His fiancée had told him that she was pregnant. He felt hurt and cheated on.
- The shepherds were afraid. They saw a bright light and watched angels appear out of nowhere.
- The wise men were exhausted. They traveled a long way to get to Jesus. They were ready for rest.
You may be in similar shoes this Christmas. You may feel confused, hurt, afraid, or simply exhausted.
What does this Christmas story have to say to you?
Over the next few devotionals, I’ll go deeper into how each of these central characters in the Christmas story responded to their pain—and how God changed everything for them in response.
But they all have one thing in common: They turned to God.
The Bible says, “Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:13 NIV).
No matter what you’re going through, God loves you. When you turn to God, he won’t turn away.
On that very first Christmas, every one of these characters turned to God. They all looked to him to meet their greatest needs.
God was there for Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and the wise men.
He’ll be there for you, too.
Talk It Over
At this moment, which of the characters described above can you identify with the most, and why?
What is keeping you from turning to God despite the problems you’re facing?
How can you help someone else who is hurting this Christmas season?
This devotional © 2018 by Rick Warren. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
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