Bad things are happening all around us.
Terrorism. Heartache. Suffering. Loss. The weight of each inscrutable.
Then we have Christmas, which seems like the opposite end of the spectrum. Christmas brings joy. Celebration. Music. Love. The weight of each delightful.
But Christmas is not the opposite of pain and these two camps aren’t competing. Rather, Christmas gives us pause and a reminder to endure this disgusting world poisoned by sin because we have One who endured for us.
Listen to Tim Keller,
“When September 11th happened and New Yorkers started to suffer, you heard two voices. You heard the conventional moralistic voices saying, ‘When I see you suffer, it tells me about a judging God. You must not be living right, and so God is judging you.’ When they see suffering, they see a judgmental God.
“The secular voice said, ‘When I see people suffering, I see God is missing.’ When they see suffering, they see an absent, indifferent God.
“But when we see Jesus Christ dying on the cross through an act of violence and injustice, what kind of God do we see then? A condemning God? No, we see a God of love paying for sin. Do we see a missing God? Absolutely not! We see a God who is not remote but involved.
“We sometimes wonder why God doesn’t just end suffering. But we know that whatever the reason, it isn’t one of indifference or remoteness. God so hates suffering and evil that He is willing to come into it and become enmeshed in it.
“Dorothy Sayers wrote,
For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He [God] had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it was worthwhile.
“The gift of Christmas gives you a resource—a comfort and consolation—for dealing with suffering, because in it we see God’s willingness to enter this world of suffering to suffer with us and for us.”
-Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York, December 23, 2001.