A Gift Beyond Comparison
Sweaters … gift cards … a new cell phone? The only gift I want this Christmas is to have my loved one back.
I don’t want to decorate and I don’t want to party. I want this pain to stop. I want people to quit inviting me over. And I want the holiday season to end.
I’m alone, sad, and angry. I want justice. And the only One able to do anything about it … isn’t.
The weight of your grief can be oppressive at times, especially with the added stress of Thanksgiving and Christmas. You may long for God to do something to ease your pain or to free you from it.
What is God doing?
In the fog and pain of grief, it can be easy to conclude that God doesn’t care about you or that He’s unable to help you. But despite how you feel, God has already set a plan in motion to solve your greatest problem. And when you grasp the sacrifice God made to help you, it will be easier to believe that someday He will put an end to your suffering and bring you eternal joy. So how do you get to the point where you can believe that? It starts by considering why Jesus came into the world.
Why did Jesus come?
Jesus came into the world to provide the best gift you could ever receive—the free gift of forgiveness.
“Forgiveness?” you might ask, “Why would I consider that the best gift ever?” The Bible says all of us desperately need God’s grace and forgiveness: our actions, thoughts, and motives often fall short of what God requires. And that creates a problem.
So while God, the source of every good and perfect gift, wants to bring you hope, comfort, and peace as you grieve, He also wants you to avoid the consequences of your sin. The Bible says, “For the wages [payment] of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). This verse is talking about spiritual death, which means eternal separation from God, eternal suffering. And God has provided a way to rescue you from that!
“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
You’re probably thinking, “I’m hurting enough right now as it is, and you want to talk about my sin?” If you’re asking that question, you’re probably just as confused as the people who first learned about who Jesus was and why He came. They were oppressed by their king, Herod, who, according to historians had many of these Jewish people killed.
No doubt, the people were angered and devastated by their loved one’s murders and executions. The Jews longed for a savior who would deliver justice and free them from oppression.
And after the death of your loved one, you may want God to do something similar for you—deliver justice, remove your pain, and free you from your difficult circumstances. But God still wanted those desperately hurting people to know that Jesus came to rescue them from their sins. In fact, God told Joseph to name his son Jesus precisely because “He will save his people from their sin” (Matthew 1:21b).
“For he [God] has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.”
Jesus came into the world to suffer and die so that every person who believes in Him—everyone who has accepted His gift of forgiveness—would escape eternal suffering. Knowing that your sin is forgiven is a source of comfort and hope. That’s why it’s good to think about it during the holiday season.
What do I need forgiveness for?
In the midst of your grief your sin is, understandably, the last thing on your mind. But during the Christmas season it’s good to be reminded that we all fall short of God’s standard of perfection: by being selfish or rude, lying, being proud, judging, laying blame, having impure thoughts, not being as loving as we could be, etc. So while you may be more morally upright than some people you know, compared to God you’re a mess and in desperate need of forgiveness.
Receiving the gift
Now, if a friend calls you and tells you that you have a gift waiting at the store, it’s not yours until you receive it.
You need to make sure you’ve received this wonderful gift of forgiveness of sin and an eternity with God. You do that by faith, by simply believing you have disobeyed God and acknowledging your need for Christ to die on the cross in your place—lest you suffer and die for your own sins. Since Jesus is perfect, sin-free, He was able to pay the cost of your sins by His death.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
“Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord.”
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
If you would like to receive the gift of forgiveness and acknowledge Jesus’ right to lead you, tell God something like this:
Dear God, I don’t always get everything right. In fact, I often stubbornly live life on my own terms, and I now see how wrong that is. Thank you for sending Jesus to suffer and die in my place, for my sins. I’m so glad that Christ lived a perfect life for me and that You accept me as if I’ve never done anything wrong. You love me very much and want to comfort me, be with me, and uphold me every step of the way. Please lead me and guide me. You’re in charge. Show me what I should do in every area of my life. Thank you for forgiving me and granting me an eternity with You. Please help and comfort me as I deal with the pain of grief. Amen.
“Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”
What does this have to do with my suffering?
God has given us a wonderful gift that deals with sin, but He also wants put an end to suffering. He wants to rid the world of tears. And when we realize what He was willing to sacrifice in order to save us from our sin, and remind ourselves that no one can thwart His will, we have no doubt that God can and will remove our pain.
“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”
God says in the Bible that one day He will completely do away with suffering. There will be no more tears, death, dying, or pain. This is a reality for those who have accepted Christ into their lives.
“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
At Christmas, we celebrate the gift of forgiveness and eternal life that Jesus brought us. His birth marks a new chapter in God’s plan to save us from our sin and ultimately end our suffering. So if you’re discouraged during the holidays, remind yourself that the baby Jesus came, not only to save you from your sin, but to heal your heart, and the pain of this world. Because of Him, one day there will be no more suffering. And even right now, in the middle of your hurt and suffering, Jesus wants to be a part of your life, to comfort you and help you heal.
“The hope of the gospel [what Jesus did for us] is how I get through every day. To honor my daughter’s memory and to honor the gift of Jesus, it’s my goal to be courageous, to rely on my faith, and to trust God that it’ll be okay. And praise the Lord I’ll see her again.”