There is Big H Hope!
Last week I connected you with a new friend, Pastor Tim Keller’s Hidden Christmas: The Surprising Truths behind the Birth of Jesus.
It’s the Gospel told and seen in the birth of Jesus.
Keller is a gift of God to the church: theologically astute, creatively clear, and a pastor's heart. Read the bible more, but read some Keller in between feasting on God’s Word.
Here’s another hopeful, encouraging capture from Keller that will help us see the wonderful realism of Christmas!
"When you are happy and things are going well, you feel like part of the human race.
But when something bad happens and real suffering comes to you, it feels so lonely. People around you may express sympathy, but it doesn’t help.
Then you meet someone who has been through exactly the same thing. They know what it is like. You pour your heart out to them. You listen to them and their opinions because they have been through the same thing.
When they comfort you, you are comforted.
Some years ago I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I was treated, and the cancer has not returned.
Yet I learned for the first time what it was like to live under the shadow and uncertainty of a life-threatening disease. I was fifty-one when that happened. I had been a pastor for many years and I had held a lot of hands at hospital bedsides. I thought I understood what it was like to go through chronic illness. Yet when I went through my own bout with cancer I realized I knew far less than I imagined. I also discovered that people now were more eager to talk about their suffering with me. My experience of fear and pain had given me a new power to comfort.
The incarnation means that God suffered, and that Jesus triumphed through suffering.
That means, as Hebrews 2:17-18 said, that Jesus now has an infinite power to comfort.
Christmas shows you a God unlike the god of any other faith.
Have you been betrayed? Have you been lonely? Have you been destitute? Have you faced death? So has He! Some say, “You don’t understand. I have prayed to God for things, and God ignored my prayer.” In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus cried out, “Father. . . may this cup be taken from me” (Matthew 23:39) and he was turned down. Jesus knows the pain of unanswered prayer. Some say, “I feel like God has abandoned me.” What do you think Jesus was saying on the cross when he said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:45)?
Christianity says God has been all the places you have been;
He has been in the darkness you are in now, and more. And, therefore, you can trust Him; you can rely on Him, because He knows and has the power to comfort, strengthen, and bring you through."
For this reason He (Jesus) had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.