He comes to make His blessings known/Far as the curse is found.
—Isaac Watts

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doom and Sorrow

Jesus came to a broken world—a world wracked by war and disease; a world plagued by addiction, alienation, and abuse; a world polluted by bigotry, hypocrisy, and lies. A world littered with failed marriages, broken homes, and shattered lives. It was a world and an age much like our own. It was a world of doom.

Jesus knew our world’s sorrows, from the poverty and pain surrounding His birth to His torturous death on a Roman cross. He knew rejection, treachery, and hate. He preached against them all.  But His primary concern, the driving force of His life, was something deeper and more central than all of these. You see, He came to Earth to die.

Our Deepest Need

In a world of pain and sorrow, it is easy for us to forget what we need most. But God sees clearly. Our deepest need is forgiveness. We need to be reconciled to our Creator. We have broken His laws—laws designed for our good—and we’ve worshipped the crazy passions of our hearts instead. As people, we gravitate towards being selfish and self-centered. We are suspicious of God and His laws. We are out of touch with true reality, and all of our proposed political and economic remedies are nothing but smoke and ashes. Technology has limits. Psychology has tripped us up, big government has failed us and education has sent our children adrift. We need industrial strength help. We need salvation from God Himself.

Jesus Christ is God incarnate. He is eternal deity manifest in true humanity:  God in the flesh (John 1). This is what the Christmas carols keep reminding us:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see/Hail th’ incarnate Deity…

Hail! Hail! The Word made flesh/The babe, the Son of Mary.

Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing.

Joy to the World! The Lord is come!/Let Earth receiver her king…

In Jesus Christ, creation’s Lord stepped into history as a man to settle our deepest problem…  our sin. On the cross, Jesus bore the wrath of God against the crimes and sins of humanity. He became our Substitute and suffered for not only what we have done, but what we have failed to do. On the cross He went through hell, the Just suffering for the unjust, to bring us to God (1 Pet. 3:18). And so He died.

Three days later, He came back to life. Now He sits enthroned in the highest heaven as Lord of creation. Our King has come.

But how does this help us, here and now?

Good Tidings of Great Joy

The angels who heralded Jesus’ birth spoke of it as “good tidings of great joy” for all people (Luke 2:10). The Greek word translated “good tidings” is the verb form of gospel. From God’s perspective the Christian gospel is truly good news; but it’s good for us only if we will receive it as such. The King has come. How will we receive Him?

We must lay down our rebellion, our self-will, our desire for autonomy and self-determination, and receive Jesus in true faith and humility. Each of us must be able to say with sincerity, “Jesus died for me. Jesus is my Savior. He is my King.” When by faith we receive Jesus’ sacrifice for us, lights go on and everything changes.

A New Life

When we believe in Jesus Christ, God becomes our Father. The sovereign Creator, who spins the galaxies through space, who measures out our every breath, now receives us as His own children, as precious in His sight as Jesus Himself. Yep, it’s true, as our Father, God promises to hear our prayers, to meet our daily needs, to forgive our sins, to disciple and discipline us, and to lead us even through the darkest of shadows (Matt. 6—7; Ps. 23).

He also sends His Spirit. Practically, this means that everyone who trusts in Christ has become a new person. The Spirit of God changes our priorities and values. They become God’s. While these changes don’t always happen instantly, He does give us a new ability to do what we ought to do. The Spirit progressively frees us from selfishness and pride. He breaks our addictions. He enables us to settle down and love others. He fills us with joy and contentment. He gives us peace (Gal. 5:22).

This Spirit-filled life comes with a guidebook. We call it the Bible. This earthly book is divine revelation. It’s God’s own Word. As such, it shows us reality from God’s perspective. It gives us God’s promises and tells us what He requires of us. It tells us how to live wisely and well.

Our new life also comes with a new family. The Holy Spirit includes us within Christ’s Church. Suddenly, we have brothers and sisters and friends we never knew before (Mark 10:30). God gives us family to help us, to bear our burdens, to pray for us. He also makes us responsible to do these same things for them.

Beyond all these things is an incredible future. Here’s the promise: Because Jesus rose from the dead and because His Spirit is in us… we too, will rise from the dead to eternal life and glory (1 Cor. 15). The good news for all of us is that this troubled world of pain and sorrow eventually comes to an end. Jesus Christ promises that He will return to our world to set everything right and to gather His people into His Father’s kingdom (Matt. 25). No more pain. No more sorrow. He will wipe away every tear. We’re even told His people live happily ever after (Rev. 21—22). Nice.

But What about Suffering Now?

From our Lord’s perspective, our universe is one of total meaning. His plan for us includes everything in creation (Col. 1). He counts the hairs on our head; He marks the fall of a sparrow (Matt. 10:29-30). He causes everything in time and space to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28-29).

This doesn’t mean, of course, that our trials and sorrows vanish when we trust in Christ. Often we pick up a few more. But here’s some good news: Jesus drank the cup of sorrow, pain, and hell for us. He understands our pain and frailty. He knows.

Jesus uses every one of our trials to forward His kingdom and our good. Sometimes His reasons are pretty straight forward. If we stubbornly persist in a sin, He may whack us with some of life’s broken glass—illness or financial loss, for example (Heb. 12:3-14). But more often our trials are refining fires (Jas. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3-7). They help to purge away our moral and spiritual weak stuff. They strengthen our spiritual inclinations and habits, and draw us closer to our Savior.

Some trials, however, seem (on the surface) to be of no immediate benefit to us at all. We may suffer a hardship, here and now, so that we may be of benefit to someone else later on (2 Cor. 1:4). We weep now so that we can dry the tears of others later. (My daughter Tracy, who lost a little boy late in pregnancy, knows this well.) But since those who trust in Jesus are one family, now and forever, the benefit of the pain impacts and reverberates throughout all eternity.

But right now, in this insane world, our heavenly Father does hear and answer our prayers. He can, and often will, turn aside our suffering or completely yank us out of it. Or instead, He may give us grace and strength to endure the trial to the end. He promises to be with us even in the depths of pain, confusion, and loss. In all cases, we can live in the certainty that everything we face comes to us with love and purpose from the One who died for us.

Far as the Curse Is Found

Christ does indeed heal broken hearts and shattered lives. But certainly there is more to the gospel message. We come to Christ as individuals, but Christianity is not strictly individualistic. Though Jesus begins His saving work in the hearts of men and women, He doesn’t leave it bottled up there. Through His word and Spirit, Jesus redirects our values, priorities, and energies toward the larger work of His kingdom. He wants disciples who will serve Him in all areas of their lives. He wants us to bring His word to bear on our work and play, our relationships and responsibilities, our science and philosophy, our culture and our environment. He offers healing and salvation wherever sin has corrupted our world. But the healing is on His terms. We must receive our King with our whole hearts and He must reign wholly in us. Only on such terms can we bring His healing to our culture and world. Only on such terms can we really and finally have peace on Earth.

For Further Reading:

Jerry Bridges, Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts (Colorado Springs:  NavPress, 2008).

John Piper, Desiring God, Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR:  Multnomah Press, 1996).

J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 1973).

John MacArthur, Jr., Our Sufficiency in Christ (Dallas, TX:  Word Publishing, 1991).

Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (Wheaton, IL:  Tyndale House, 1971).

Francis Schaeffer, The Church at the End of the 20th Century (Downers Grove, IL:  InterVarsity Press, 1970).

 

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20 Comments

  • Avatar
    Rusty Posted December 24, 2011 7:10 am

    This was a blessing to me. Thank you for writing it. I will share it with my family.

  • Avatar
    mwright Posted December 24, 2011 7:42 am

    Amen and amen

  • Avatar
    David Posted December 24, 2011 8:43 am

    You have grasped the eternal truth.

  • Avatar
    Loren Lowery Posted December 24, 2011 9:09 am

    Thanks for putting out the Word of God in a very straightforward and undiluted manner. We need more of this.

  • Avatar
    Don Posted December 24, 2011 11:36 am

    Thanks so much! God’s Word in a no-nonsense manner is exactly what we need. Bless you.

  • Avatar
    Neal & Elly Nelson Posted December 24, 2011 2:56 pm

    Greetings & Merry Christmas,

    WOW ! So wonderful to read the revelations you have shared with so many. It is so interesting that there is such deep teaching, (even translaring directly out of the Greek).

    I do have something to share with you. First off, you do know that Jesus was a Jew. As were so many of the folks in the “english versiom” of His Holy Word. The question is “Why would we have to translate from the Greek, when He gave it to us in the Hebrew”, so why not translate it directly into the english?

    The true focus of this, is the fact that my wife Elly has spent going on 10 years now, studing the Hebrew roots of our Faith. She has spent over a year building a website (complete with the “store” part) of 160 pages deep! The name of the domaim is http://www.AwesomeLamb.com , and we would welcome any feedback you might wish to share,

    So, have a wonderful Christmas, and a Blessed year just ahead.

    God Bless,
    Neal

    • Avatar
      raylinks Posted December 25, 2011 9:36 pm

      it is my understanding that what we call the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew while the New Testament was originally written in Greek (some portions in Aramaic) see this from Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible.

  • Avatar
    daniel Posted December 24, 2011 3:51 pm

    Love the cover story……..wisemen vs. leaders; same today…………..leaders rather church or gov’t are full of pride, and mostly consider about getting re-elected; growing their church, etc……………..not having time for the common persons…..
    direct different from Jesus; or Paul that make tents in the day, and preached at night, while most leaders of churches today, are to busy ‘studying the bible/seeking God’ to care for needs of body of christ they are suppose to be ‘servcing’.
    they are eating the memu; and not the meal; the meat of the word; is doing the word, not studing it.
    I would rather trust a 20year old that has no HS education, yet had jump out the ‘plane’/church seat; then a person with a Doctor degree yet never jump out of the plane /church into the real world

    • Avatar
      NOT EASILY FOOLED Posted December 26, 2011 1:03 am

      HUH?

  • Avatar
    mariem Posted December 24, 2011 5:18 pm

    I love this. All so true. Thank you for publishing it.

  • Avatar
    CateNGus Posted December 25, 2011 6:47 am

    Christmas Day blessings to you! You have certainly made my day!

    These words leaped straight off the page to me:

    “Walk in faith, confess Him in hope, and be not ashamed of worshipping the Christ Child.”

    Holy Spirit inspired! BLESS YOU, my friend!

  • Avatar
    Suni Posted December 25, 2011 12:02 pm

    A truly inspired message that I enjoyed reading on this wonderful day that we call Christmas. Thank you for all that you do and all the messages you bring to us in this over-whelming (at times) world of today. GOD Bless you and your families at this most wonderful time of the year.
    Amen and Amen

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    sunburst Posted December 25, 2011 4:14 pm

    Thank you for the inspirational messages. May the truth of the Word of God prevail. If all those who use Facebook or Twitter would post this article we would be helping to fulfill the great commission.
    Wishing you all a prosperous New Year.

    • Avatar
      Ayaka Posted June 21, 2012 12:02 am

      I find looking at prtcuies of Jesus very uplifting. I know it isn’t Him but it REMINDS us of Him and helps us to concentrate our thoughts on spiritual things.I find all symbolism whether candles, prtcuies et. are like a stepping stone to concentrating on the REALITY OF JESUS they are helpful stepping stones which points us to JESUS THE FOUNDATION STONE.Anything which helps us to grow as Christians can only be good!

  • Avatar
    leweclectic Posted December 25, 2011 7:11 pm

    What has changed? Nothing! If one goes in search of God (He, She, or It), and finds God, kill it. Religious mythos is the biggest lie out there. This is a dog eat dog–survival of the fittest world, you’re either a wolf or a sheep and, the wolf will eat sheep…as it should be. There is no comfort and joy except for what one garners by being strong enough, smart enough, and fast enough to take it. Until we eliminate this peace, harmony, and love non-sense and accept Mother Nature for what she is…that there are no indecencies in nature, will we move on as a species. Bah-humbug to the bunch of you.
    Just waiting for Godot, lol.

  • Avatar
    triunelastdays.org – Dave Posted December 26, 2011 6:30 pm

    Re – Jeweclectic
    He calls us all Bah-humbugs – Which of course would also include him!
    He is not upto date on what the scriptures says about individuals like him.
    The “fool has saiid in his heart,there is no God,they are corrupt, thehave done abominable
    works, there is none who does good”. Psalm 14:1 Also – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge but fools despise wisdom andinstruction. Proverbs 1:7
    Of all the positive comments, his is the only nagitive one, and i agree 100% with all these other comments http://www.eriune@shaw.ca

  • Avatar
    Buck Posted December 27, 2011 10:59 am

    No one knows when our lords coming will be , but I pray for it daily because of what is happening to this once Christian nation , not to mention the rest of the world .

  • Avatar
    LexRex Posted December 28, 2011 9:32 am

    Beautiful expression of faith and hope. Thank you.

  • Avatar
    Leonidas Posted January 10, 2012 12:17 am

    The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

  • Avatar
    rome holiday Posted July 22, 2012 12:38 am

    A person necessarily assist to make seriously posts I’d state. That is the very first time I frequented your web page and to this point? I amazed with the analysis you made to create this particular post amazing. Wonderful activity!

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