3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV)
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4, NIV)
Are God’s consolations not enough for you, words spoken gently to you? (Job 15:11, NIV)
Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. (Luke 2:25)
Excuse me. Could you lift your head up out of your celebration for a moment? Please. I won’t take long. I just want to remind you that not everyone is having a jolly old time during this season of merriment.
Look, I’m not trying to be Debby Downer…but I think it’s important to remember that there are people experiencing all kinds of levels of grief and loss. They look at the dinner table and there’s an empty chair. Perhaps it’s not a person but a job and income that they have lost. Maybe they have lost their dream.
And try as they might they can’t muster up an ounce of Christmas joy. It just hurts too much.
Here’s the good news: God gets that.
Honestly that’s the whole reason God gave. God came.
As with Job, he comes to speak words of comfort to you.
Like all of Israel, waiting and looking for a Messiah. Suffering under foreign and oppressive rule. That’s why in the midst of the Story there’s the story of Simeon. This righteous man was desperately seeking God’s promised redemption.
And because he was looking, when Jesus was brought to the temple–Simeon recognized him as God’s consolation. He’s arrived!
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians the passage I quoted above, he was at the bottom of the bottom. He was so low he was ready to die. (Go ahead and read the rest of chapter one and you’ll get the picture.)
But as low as he was, he recognized that God was still there to be the God of all comfort and consolation. And he also knew that he had received this balm for his heart to share it with others.
Way back in the Old Testament, God told Abraham that he was blessed to be a blessing (see Genesis 12:2). If you are mourning, grieving, feeling the pain of some loss this Christmas season, look up. God has come where you are. He gave his son a gift to you. Hear his words of comfort. Sense his heart’s ache for you.
Then share the blessing. You have been comforted to be able to share the comfort with other.
You may now return to your regularly scheduled celebration…and hopefully it will include many more people and blessings.