Every year Christmas strikes me in a new way. Perhaps because every year I struggle with Christmas, well, more specifically Christmas time, because December is dark and overcast and cold and gloomy.
Maybe that’s why the Light of the World shone His face upon us when He did.[i]
My issues with SAD aside, Christmas hit me in a more…physical way this year. Since I was little, I’ve heard about Jesus, born on this day, God in human form, who came and dwelt among us. It’s like all this time I never appreciated the importance of God coming and dwelling among us as one of us. He could have come in the form of a Greek god throwing thunder bolts all puffed up in His own strength or a political ruler, throwing His power and authority around. But He didn’t. He came as a person, just like you and me. Not born into high class or status or wealth. But even more than His humble birth position, born to Mary and Joseph…the simple fact that He was human has hit me square between the eyes, or rather, the shoulders.
The fact that Jesus put on skin and was born into a vulnerable, human body, means that He felt pain. He felt pain in every form. He was not exempt from scratches and scrapes, bruises, or even broken bones. We are told of the account of the immense physical pain he endured at Golgotha[ii] but not much about the physical pains He endured as a young boy. The fact that He was a boy, with brothers, I’m gonna go ahead and assume that there was wrestling and rough-housing and possible broken bones as a young boy.
Why does this matter?
This matters because He has felt our physical pain.
If you’ve ever experienced a long-term illness or physical injury, then you know full well how frustrating the healing process can be. You have to be patient with your body, rest, and abstain from certain activity all while learning to do other tasks in a new way to compensate. Not only can that wear on you, but constant pain literally causes depression.[iii]
What a comfort to know the God we love and serve literally understands the physical pains we will encounter during this lifetime. For me, when I’ve encountered something physical, there’s nothing more encouraging than talking to a friend who has had the exact same illness or injury. They don’t just offer their pity; they offer their empathy, because they get it.
No matter the type of pain you are feeling during this season, be it emotional or physical, we can take great comfort in knowing that what we are really celebrating this weekend is the birth of The Savior Jesus, the only One who truly understands our pain.
[i] Yes, I know the actual date of Jesus’ birth has been a topic of dispute for centuries. Frankly I don’t care what month it really happened, I’m thankful we celebrate it when we do, because December would be dreadful without it, or as C.S. Lewis puts it in his Chronicles of Narnia, “always winter, never Christmas.”
[ii] Matthew 27:32-54
[iii] Hall-Flavin, Daniel K., MD. “Is there a link between pain and depression? Can depression cause physical pain?.” Mayoclinic.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Dec. 2016. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/pain-and-depreassion/faq-20057823>