Christmas is such a beautiful time, but it can be wracked with so much pain. Pain of loss, pain of suffering, pain of love.
As I think of the Christmas story from a different lens than what I normally think of, I see a story full of pain and suffering oozing with love.
It starts with the pain of not having a place to call home. The humiliation of having a child in a barn, in the smelly, dirty, yet wonderfully homey manger. We glorify it, but it must have been absolutely atrociously horrifying, in yet beautiful at the same time. I love the smell and warmth of the barn, but it can also be overpowering as well. I hope the barn was as clean and beautiful as we make it out to be in our Christmas stories, but somehow I doubt it.
Then, the process of childbirth. It’s a bloody mess full of gut-wrenching pain. Some women have an easy childbirth, I hope Mary did. Most don’t. It’s a sweaty, intensely painful process that some can handle, some can’t. (Watch this story.) The birthing process can be absolutely agonizing to watch, let alone experience. In yet, for many, it’s a beautiful process with a wonderful outcome. For many others, not so much.
I love how my friend is loving the experience of Christmas through the lens of a new grandma twice over. She is a wonderful woman, a mom of 4 wonderful men and 2 up-and-coming-men and is now a grand mom to two beautiful little girls. They are so lucky to have her in their lives. There is nothing like the beauty of family. And, now, she is reflecting on the beauty of Christmas through the beauty of the recent births of her grandchildren. As a result, she is cherishing the beauty of Christmas in a whole different way as a result.
But, life isn’t easy. For some it is easier than others. I cannot imagine just how burdensome it would be to live a life knowing that your life was meant to be lived to be a sacrifice for the joy and peace of others. If Jesus knew his life purpose was to die to save men from suffering starting from the very start of his life, what a burden to bear.
The responsibility of living a life for the sake of others is a huge burden. Living your life for the meaning and blessing of others can be a huge blessing, aid in giving your life meaning, can keep you going through hell, but it is a burden. I can literally feel the heavy burden that Jesus must have felt at the realization that his life wasn’t meant for his sake alone.
Then to realize that for some, people would take the meaning and reason for his life out of context, would misread his intentions, would not “get it” even though they proclaim they know him, understand him, believe him, and follow him. That, too, would be incredibly burdensome. It would give a hopeless feeling for sure. All this pain and suffering in living life for the sake of others then for those people to misconstrue it? I cannot imagine the heavy feeling that comes with this realization, the acknowledgement of this fact.
Then to live through experiences where you are not understood, blamed for things that are way-crazy and out-of-control madness. It’s bad enough to be blamed for truth, but when it’s completely out from left field?? Then to live a life of the famous where people are stalking you and begging you for healing and words of encouragement and no matter where you go, you just can’t get a break. And, you can’t help everyone. There are thousands wanting help and others who just plain don’t and he wasn’t able to help them all. Burden upon burden and he hadn’t even gotten to the part of his life where he was crucified. An event that could only be described as sheer hell on earth.
Not only were people reeling, criticizing, his friends desert him, governments making the whole thing a huge big deal and using him as a political pawn, he then goes through the process of literal torture. I just cannot imagine. If he could forecast the knowledge of the event, the pain would be horrific to anticipate let alone to actually experience it. Sheer horrificness.
Then, to feel the burden of sins. Not necessarily yours, but the sins of others. Rushing over you, rolling over you, pounding through your soul, the very core of your being. Can you imagine the burden? It’s absolutely no fun, that is for sure. It’s not your fault, but you take it on because your life purpose is to heal others, to bring blessing to others. So, for their sake you take on their burden so they can become free.
A life full of pain, suffering, and a burden that is completely unbearable yet he bore it. For love.
The Christmas story is a beautiful story that demands to be considered. From a lens that is different than what we traditionally think of. Even if you don’t believe that it’s true. Even if you don’t believe in Jesus. Just the story from a human concept, a human perspective is something to consider. We all live this life of pain and suffering to some degree. But, because others take on pain, we don’t have to experience nearly as much as we do. Take the soldier on the battlefield for instance. Or your janitor.
The Christmas story is a story of pain and suffering oozing with love. A love so we can live in peace, joy, and harmony – if we so choose. But, even those who believe in the story still don’t understand the concept. Still, love continues and oozes out full of love and grace and goodness…