If your heart aches, it somehow aches more deeply and more profoundly at Christmastime. Despite the glow of candles, stars and twinkling lights, these days can be the darkest of the year. A time when alone becomes lonely, when the reality of life on this earth doesn’t measure up to expectations and the losses of life loom large in the memory.
But the real-ness of God’s Word speaks to the aching heart, to pain and to poverty of spirit, especially at Christmastime.
The Apostle Paul, speaking of himself and Timothy in 2 Corinthians 6, admitted, “Our hearts ache.” Things hadn’t gone as planned with their work of bringing the believers of Corinth to maturity in their faith. “But,” Paul circles around, “we always have joy.” “We are poor, but we give. We own nothing, and yet we have everything…”
Aching hearts and joy. Poverty and giving. Nothing and everything. Isn’t that an illustration of the Christian’s life, in the now, here on earth? Believers are not immune to the sorrows of this life, but God’s Word offers up the dichotomy of an aching heart, still full of joy.
How did Paul and Timothy respond to their disappointments? “We give spiritual riches to others.” The natural response of the aching heart is to isolate, to focus on self, mull over the miserableness of it all and the wonderful lives we imagine others living around the Christmas tree.
“I don’t have anything to give to anyone this Christmas,” you may think. And in and of yourself, you may be right. But the believer in Christ always has spiritual riches to give. You have thousands of God’s promises to share. You have the gift of presence, the ability to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a brother or sister who is hurting as you are.
In his article, “Five Ways to Comfort the Hurting at Christmas”, Pastor Roger Barrier points out that comforters care enough to come uninvited. “‘Can’t you just be here with me and say, “You’re sorry,” as I try to survive?’” Barrier quotes Job, as saying to his friends.
Giving, from the spiritual riches we have been given… even an “I’m sorry for your pain,” as you struggle through your own, is the balm for your aching heart this Christmas. “Show up,” even uninvited, in the life of another who you know is hurting. Earlier in 2 Corinthians, Paul explains that God comforts us, not just because He loves us and cares deeply when we suffer but chapter 1, verse 4 says, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Corinthians 1:4 NLT).
If your heart aches this Christmas, and you have a personal relationship with God, ask Him for the joy that is available to you even in heartache. The believer in Christ can live, today, right here with joy, in what I like to think of as, “the middle of the story.” Do not fail to get into His Word, into his presence today for Psalms 16:11 promises that there, in communion with him, even in the hardships of life, you will find “fullness of joy.”
If you’re living with an aching heart this Christmas season and you are outside of a personal relationship with God, He’s waiting for you. Seek Him. He is the God who may be found and may be known. Surrender to Him is the only way to know joy even in sorrow, riches in poverty and to have all that you truly need. Call out to Him this Christmas.
Resource Reading: Psalm 27
Text: “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything…” (2 Corinthians 6:10a NLT)
GUIDELINES with Harold Sala – December 18, 2017