Last Updated on February 28, 2024

I heard a thought second-hand recently, which was originally from a mother who’d just lost her child in a terrible accident.

The mom explained that she’d diligently raised her kids to love the Lord—really sought to honor Him in their home. But she didn’t think He was the kind of God who would take her child in an accident. So, she reasoned that she needed to get to know Him all over again.

I was struck by the humility and wisdom of this: the God-centeredness. And as Christmas draws near, I realize that her story is definitely not the first time that God has showed Himself to be quite different than what we’ve pictured.

Very few experts in Jewish law even recognized God when He came! And honestly, if I were going to choose to save the world, my plan would have been a whole lot different. Nix the barn, the unwed mother, the infanticide, the murderous king, the Savior dying naked and tortured in one of the worst forms of capital punishment ever imagined.

John the Baptist had his own questions about the plan, from a dirty, infested Roman prison where he anticipated losing his life to a tyrant. He sent messengers to Jesus: “Are you the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?” (Luke 7:19).

I like the raw, straightforward question from this man. All of us have tasted our own suffering—the kind that knocks us back on our heels. Or just plain knocks us down. And something I’ve thought at those times from my own prison: I’m not sure you’re the God I thought you were.

But I also like how Jesus answers him.

[verse reference=”Luke 7:22″]…The blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them.[/verse]

It’s a direct fulfillment of prophecy about the Messiah—but it’s also sheer hope. And sheer compassion. When I read this, I hear Him saying, I see the down and out. I see people’s real needs. And I’m meeting their temporary needs and their lasting ones. I see you, John. Your life of separation and living in the wilderness and standing for Me hasn’t been wasted. Hope is here.

The joy and family around Christmas sometimes leaves holes in us big enough for the wind to blow through. But as I write, I’m praying that those of you in deep grief will find something even more unexpected about God: comfort, life, and hope even bigger and more enduring than your profound pain.

May God surprise you this Christmas.

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  1. Lauren Stinton says:

    Well done. This is wonderfully written, so to the point. Good, good job with this.

  2. Thanks for this post. So many are suffering with loneliness and depression during this time. It is often overlooked.