How’s ministry? It’s a question we’re asked all the time but it can be incredibly hard to answer, right?
Tis the season of looking back and forward as one year ends and another begins. As you look back over the past year, I’m sure you can see moments of transformation and grace, laughter and salvation. But I’m sure you also see hurt, conflict, messiness, and pain. In ministry, we see both and sometimes it’s just plan exhausting and hard to find the hope and peace of Christmas in it all.
The holidays, a wonderful, hard, sad, joy-filled, family-oriented, lonely, and busy season. Everywhere we go we see sparkling decorations and the words Joy and Merry. As workers for Jesus we know that Jesus is worthy of celebration and focus, yet for some of the families you serve, or maybe for you, this season will be hard.
It has been a season of hard in my ministry world and this Christmas season I feel, more than ever, the need to recognize that this amazingly joyous season will also be the first Christmas without a dad for one family and without a daughter for another. It will be the first Christmas spent with parents in different homes and for others it’s another holiday that leaves them feeling very very single. As some anticipate Christmas day, others are dreading it. To those of us doing hard right now, here are a few things I’m choosing to remember in the midst of the tension between joy and pain.
Jesus understands hard. He lived in the hard. His own town didn’t believe that he was who se said he was and his siblings thought he was nuts. One of his closest friends betrayed him. He dealt with pushy parents expecting him to heal their kids and he lived with an entire people group laying their unmet expectations on him. Yet, Jesus says, Come all who are weary and I will give you rest.
Jesus understands grief. His reaction at the death of John the Baptist gives us view into the grief at losing a cousin and friend. Jesus dealt with the sorrow of losing his earthy father, Joseph. His tears at the tomb of Lazarus and his look of pain at Peter’s denial remind us that Jesus experienced loss. Yet, He is the way, the truth, and the LIFE.
Jesus understands lonely. He spent 40 days alone preparing for ministry while dealing with Satan at every turn. He faced the Sanhedrin alone. He sought his heavenly Father in the night, sweating blood, alone. He reminds us that he will never leave your nor forsake you.
To get through, to see a bit of hope, we need to soak ourselves in the truths that he lived. We need to remember that he understands, he is there and his desire is to carry our burdens and sorrows. We need to lean in, let him heal the broken places, and remind ourselves that we are not alone.
If you are experiencing life in all its messy and hard like me, maybe the verse that has been my rock can speak to you as well. God’s words in Isaiah are still true today.
So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will UPHOLD you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
May the peace WITH TRANSCENDS ALL UNDERSTANDING guard your heart and mind this Christmas season. Jesus was born to bring us this peace and he is with us always, even to the end of the age. May God bring your heart rest this Christmas season and may he bring healing and clarity into your new year.