Tidings of Comfort and Joy
This week’s post is by Becca Wellan. Becca is a member and volunteer at Redeemer, and no, she’s not waiting until the day after Thanksgiving to post this.
Last Sunday after church, my roommates and I turned up our favorite Christmas tunes and put on our Christmas sweaters. We bought Christmas decor and decorated a mini tree. Christmas cookies baked in the oven as we strung up Christmas lights.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. We know. It was the day before Halloween, actually. And we could not have been more stoked.
As I danced around the house, singing Christmas songs (horrible-karaoke-style), it hit me: I haven’t felt this joyful and free in a long, long time.
Later, as I sat criss-cross on the floor, wrapping our paintings in Santa Claus wrapping paper, my mind suddenly flooded with memories of a past holiday season. My heart began to ache as memories played like a movie in my mind. The pain of deep wounds stole my breath, nearly knocking me over.
It’s strange what Santa Claus wrapping paper can do to a person.
To hurt is to be human.
Most of us have experienced deep hurt. Not to be a Scrooge, but if you haven’t been devastated by hurt yet, you will be. Sadly, it’s normal for the brokenness of this world to affect us deeply.
Perhaps you’ve been wounded by someone you love. Maybe you’re struggling in your marriage, family, or friendships, or you feel devastatingly alone. Or, your mental/emotional/physical health seems impossible to work through. Maybe you’re sharing in the suffering of someone dear to you and it’s wearing on your spirit.
Life just hurts, sometimes. The hurt in our hearts and in the world is an opportunity to run into the arms of Jesus, to ask Him to be the healer, comforter and joy-giver He says He is. Yet so often we look for a quick fix, to take our mind off the pain.
Where do you run when you are starving for comfort and joy? Perhaps you run to someone who can affirm you, who can help steady you. But what if that person isn’t available, or walks out on your life?
Perhaps you self-medicate with alcohol, drugs or sex. But they will leave you empty tomorrow.
Perhaps you bury yourself in your work, your hobbies or school to take the edge off your pain. But busyness is only temporary distraction. When your head hits the pillow at night, has anything changed?
Seek comfort in these things, and you may feel better faster. But you’re putting a bandaid over a broken leg, it just won’t work. We need true comfort and joy to heal our hurts, from the inside out.
Tidings of comfort and joy.
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Saviour. // Luke 2:10-11.
When life hurts, you become more aware of your need for a Savior. Whether you find it in a person, a substance, or a distraction, we all know we need to be rescued when the battle becomes too much.
The best news is that a Savior was born. To reconcile billions of reckless, bitter, calloused souls into deep friendship with Him. To forgive every last sinful thought.
The greatest joy is knowing that despite our circumstances, we have a Savior who took the punishment that should’ve been ours, to give us forgiveness we could never earn. We are safe, we don’t have to heal according to a timeline. Our greatest need for healing was met the moment Christ said “it is finished”; the moment we were forgiven.
What if the hurt you face serves a greater purpose?
Ever had one of those I-Just-Can’t moments? One of mine involved curling up on the couch one early autumn morning as the fog rolled in. I felt burnt out, angry at the daily struggle to overcome past hurt and shame. As tears stained my cheeks with mascara, I cried out to God:
Papa, please, I prayed, could you bring me a season of joy? You’ve brought me through a season of deep hurt and I could really use some joy right now.
I don’t like being hurt. I never have, I never will. I think it’s safe to say that’s universal. But what if God is using it to transform you to be more like Him?
In Romans 5:3-5, Paul encourages us to have joy in our sufferings; God is at work in the hurt. He is just as much our Savior when we’re suffering as He was our Savior on the cross. Paul says that suffering brings endurance, character, and hope. He will sharpen you, and He will change you.
Decking the halls the day before Halloween, with my sweet, hilarious roommates who relentlessly point me to Christ, reminded me that though it still hurts, God already answered my prayer for joy. I remembered the girl I was a year ago, and smiled because I see how God has been transforming my heart through the tears.
How to find joy and comfort.
When we catch even a glimpse of who God is, we can’t help but be transformed. When I remind myself of His character, that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3), that He is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 145:8), I find comfort and rest.
This may sound obvious, but we learn who God is through reading the bible. We should never, ever get over the miracles that happen when it’s truths inform and challenge our minds. Psalm 119:50 says, “this is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.” This verse isn’t referring to one promise. It’s saying that the entire bible makes Him alive, which is His comfort in suffering. God’s word is filled with truths about Him that are designed to bring you comfort as you learn about the character of God.
If you’re like me, you conform God to fit your culture. Bad idea. God is not PNW-passive. He is not sitting in heaven, hoping you’ll figure it out. He wants to enter into your life. Pray and ask God to act, to be who He says He is in your life. Ask God to show you that He truly does heal the brokenhearted, that He truly is a comforter. You are not asking Him to be something He’s not, and He’s more than willing to pour out His love into your life.
In the laughter, through the tears, God spoke to me last Sunday. Though hurt still lingers, He comforted me with the hope that He has, and is, and will be at work in my struggle, to heal from the inside out. He reminded me, as I decked the halls with laughter and gold glitter, as I nearly fell apart, that Jesus had come with tidings of comfort and joy.