Of the many interesting and relatable stories in the Bible, a favorite of mine is the story of the woman by the well. It’s tucked away safely in the 4th chapter of John and in a few lines, the story exemplifies why Jesus came and who He came for: the messy, the distraught, the broken, and the hopeless.
When all things are well: when we are whole, without blemish (at least when we think we are), when our circumstances are neat and tidy, it is so easy to know and proclaim that truth of who Jesus is. However, it is when we are in the dark that we understand the depth of that love. In church today, Pastor Paul spoke about the definition of the word “save” in Greek, it is defined as the act of restoration, to be made whole, and to be made well.
Christmas is often a time of family gatherings, togetherness, and gift giving. In the Philippines especially, this season is regarded as sacred and is the best time to reconcile with loved ones. But just like the rest of the world, the season can be a reminder of what we don’t have, what we’ve lost, or what has not yet come. The season can either bring you great joy or despair depending on the current season of your life.
However, tonight, I was reminded by an old favorite Christmas carol of the truth of the season and what we are truly celebrating. In a note shared quickly with friends during the service, I was reminded that Jesus came into this dark world in order to bring light and to save us.
“God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.” – Colossians 1:13-14
“O, Holy Night” shared with us “the thrill of hope that came in the morning”. Morning doesn’t have to be literal, we can be in the darkest moment of our lives and the only way that we can witness the break of dawn is if Jesus comes to save us. This year could have brought you the darkest moments of your life but that doesn’t mean that all is without hope.
We know and it has been proven many times that God operates differently than the world. Joseph and Mary only expected a simple life, one without fuss or complications. I’m sure during their day they had plans of their own. And yet God interrupted their plans in the most insane way possible to bring forth the biggest responsibility of all: to raise the Messiah who will save the world.
We all had plans at the beginning of 2016 and I’m sure that right now, as we celebrate Christmas (or at least try to), we can see that life is nothing like what we expected and in this we find disappointment. We must always remember, however, that God works in ways we never quite expect. What may seem like a dead end situation could only be a gateway to the great life He has prepared and intended for us.
The woman by the well believed that she was hopeless so she settled for relationships that didn’t bring her satisfaction as the living water would. She thought she was broken beyond repair and yet the King of the world, the one who had every right to turn her away sought her out, sat down beside her, and uplifted her. The world was ashamed of that woman and yet in her darkest moment, Jesus came, touched her, and told her that she would never be the same again.
She was restored, healed, and made well all because of the Savior who chose to pick her up in the middle of her darkness. Jesus came into the world in a manger, the filthiest of all places, to remind us that He is not afraid of the messiest parts of our lives. In fact, this is what He came for and there’s nothing in our lives that He cannot touch including the messiest, darkest, and most hurtful places of our lives. Jesus meets us where we are, He meets us where we have tripped, scraped our knees, and hurt and in meeting us there, He picks us up again and reminds us that we were worth coming to Earth for. He reminds us that we are not rejected by Him and even if the ones closest to us have failed, He will never fail us.
That is the true meaning of Christmas: to know that we are loved, no matter what and situations are never hopeless. Sometimes in this dark and dreary world, the only hand we have is Jesus and ultimately, that is enough.
May your Christmas bring good cheer and love but most importantly, may it connect you to the One who loves you most and may you be reminded that no matter what happens externally, God loves you, He is with you, and the best is yet to come.