Christmas, Job, and hope amid despair

I am sick. Yes, again. I’ve been sick off and on since before Thanksgiving. In fact I can’t remember the last time I felt good or even normal. It’s frustrating and wearying. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

My friend is enduring her own frustrating and wearying season. It seems she’s been dealt one blow after another, some serious, some less-so, all stressful.

Another friend of mine is terribly lonely. This has been a difficult year for her and on top of all the trials that have come her way she’s been disappointed by her church and, I think, her religion. She doesn’t know Jesus as her Savior and my heart breaks for her.

My pastor recently began a sermon series from the book of Job. Yeah, that’s right. Job. In December. At Christmas. Odd choice, some might think, but as I think on it, the more I think it not only appropriate but a timely and good word in due season.

Our expectations for Christmas are always so high, are they not? In fact I think that’s much of the reason for my Scrooge-ness through the years: I couldn’t achieve the ideal. My house never looked like the pages of the magazine but more like a disaster zone, someone always seemed disappointed with their gift, one or more of the kids would get sick, and on and on my list of Christmas grievances could go. It sounds silly to admit but all those little and wearisome failures and frustrations would blow up into full throttle despair. I hated Christmas and I hated myself.

Not only do we wear ourselves out with outrageous expectations but for so many of us Christmas is a time of grief and loneliness. Some of us have lost a loved one and their absence feels all the more keen with all the emphasis on family at Christmastime. Some of us are just lonely and that loneliness weighs all the more heavily at Christmas.

Enter Job and his example of suffering and suffering well. Our difficulties pale in comparison to his losses but, still, pain is pain, struggles are struggles, heartache is heartache. This past Sunday my pastor preached from Job 2 where Job laments the day he was born. Not many of us have endured the depth of Job’s trials but we well understand his anguish. I don’t have to tell you that life is hard and difficulty comes for us all at some point or another. Where then is our hope?

Maybe you too feel the tentacles of despair coloring your Christmas celebration. Maybe you grieve or maybe you’re just tired. Maybe you don’t know the security of salvation in Christ alone or maybe you need to be reminded of the hope that is yours because of Jesus. I hope you’ll watch the sermon below (it’s in two parts for some reason) and be encouraged by the truth of the gospel.

To live is Christ. To die is gain.

Video streaming by Ustream

Video streaming by Ustream

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2 thoughts on “Christmas, Job, and hope amid despair

  1. I am looking forward to getting the sermon worked into my schedule. In my Sunday School class I started teaching a series on Job last Sunday. The first thing we learn that if you are not in sorrow or pain or whatever today you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. How do you handle all the negative things in your life. Christ is always the answer.

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