December 28, 2022
On this last Wednesday of 2022, we would like to give a special thank you for your partnership in prayer for our prodigals and for revival. Also, thank you for being a part of these weekly devotionals, intended to encourage you in your walk with God.
2022 has been a year of hardship, change, and transition. Thankfully, we walk with God and His presence is real. As we anticipate a new year, may God give us fresh courage, vision, and hope!
Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet. He was a youth when God called him to ministry and he deeply felt the condition and future of God’s people. This is what he said in one instance in reference to the nation, “But if you will not listen, my soul will weep in secret for your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly and run down with tears, because the LORD's flock has been taken captive” (Jeremiah 13:17).
As we reflect on Christmas day when we celebrated the coming of our Savior, we need to remember that He did not come into favorable circumstances. His trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem must have been a huge challenge for Mary. His birth was definitely not easy. His flight into Egypt for the protection of His life was another big hardship.
Jesus entered a world of suffering and pain. He not only entered it, but also became a very real part of it. He came to experience the limitations and troubles of human life. What a Savior!
The part of Jeremiah’s prophecy that relates to the coming of Christ is heartbreaking: “Thus says the LORD: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more’” (Jeremiah 31:15).
This describes the evil intentions of Herod when he sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem under 2 years of age, with the hopes of murdering Jesus the King. “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah” (Matthew 2:16-17).
What a horrific day this must have been in that little town. The King was born, rejoicing was enjoyed, and then suddenly, innocent children were slaughtered. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends were filled with inconsolable grief. Jeremiah must have wept as he wrote these words and thought about the future day it would happen.
When Jesus spoke in the synagogue, in His hometown of Nazareth, He announced the purpose of His coming. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). He came to heal those hurting people in Bethlehem and everyone else who would receive Him.
Suffering is the birthplace of hope. There would be no need for hope if everything was always going well. We hope for a larger income because what we have is not enough to pay the bills. We hope for a deeper relationship because the present one is still in its early stages. We hope for a life free of pain because no one likes a sore back or aching joints. We hope for a world free of heartbreak. We hope for a future filled with joy, love, and grace. Why? Because, to a large degree, it’s lacking.
It is this perspective of hope that makes the difficulties of our life bearable. This is what Paul was getting at when he wrote to the Corinthian saints, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Let us find comfort in this reality!
As we appreciate the sufferings of the early life of Christ, may we allow the hope of a better future to fill our hearts.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel