The lights have stopped twinkling and the carols have stopped playing for weeks now. But like every year I still hang on to bits of Christmas for as long as I can. This year it took me until mid January before I finally removed the last Christmas wreath and packed up my beautiful ceramic Nativity display. I love that Nativity. My mother gifted it to my husband and I on our first Christmas after we were married. This is the 40th year my beloved Nativity has graced each place we have called home during our married life.
I want to take a few minutes to share something that happened this year while I was disassembling the Nativity. As I wrapped each figurine carefully and gently packed it into the assigned plastic bin I could not help but feel just a wee bit sad. A year seems so long to wait before this beautiful display will be seen again. The shepherds, the three kings, Mary and Joseph, as well as the four footed creatures were ready to rest nestled among layers of white tissue paper for the next 11 months.
Finally there was one precious piece left…the infant Jesus. I gently picked up the tiny babe so intricately fashioned and simply studied it for a bit. I placed it inside the empty crèche one more time. For some reason I could not take my eyes off the tiny figurine sitting isolated.
no sheep or cows,
no wise men,
not even Mary or Joseph.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you just really see something? I mean you have looked at it many times but suddenly you SEE it! And in this moment I saw something in a way that is not seen by the eyes as much as the heart. I was reminded that Jesus of all people understood what it meant to feel alone at times. His life was filled with moments of loneliness.
Jesus bidding his Father goodbye as he leaves the splendor of heaven’s glory to begin his earth bound journey into the womb of a young Jewish maiden…LONELINESS ~John 1:14~
Jesus the helpless, dependent newborn King in a smelly stable with only a manger for a crib and the sound of lowly animals to announce his entrance into the world…LONELINESS! ~Luke 2:7~
Jesus the young boy, separated from his parents for three days, found in the Temple among the religious sect of his time…LONELINESS! ~Luke 2:46~
Jesus with twelve close followers yet finding himself praying alone time after time…LONELINESS! ~Mark 6:46~
Jesus at the Last Supper glancing at one of his own disciples leave the table knowing full well their next encounter would be a kiss of betrayal…LONELINESS! ~Mark 14:18~
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane sweating drops of blood in agony of what the next several hours will hold in store for him…LONELINESS! ~Luke 22:44~
Jesus watching his remaining once faithful followers scatter and flee into the night as he is dragged away by Roman soldiers to begin the torturous ordeal that he knows he must endure…LONELINESS! ~Matthew 26:56~
Jesus knowing that even Peter has now denied him three times as he hears the sound of a rooster’s distant crow…LONELINESS! ~Matthew 26:75~
Jesus hanging on a cross…beaten, bruised and gasping for his last agonizing breaths of air…crying out to his Father for an answer as to why He too has abandoned him in his hour of greatest need…LONELINESS! ~Matthew 27:46~
Yes I believe that if anyone knew the meaning of being alone, of feeling loneliness, it was Jesus! Even in death, loneliness followed this man Jesus, as his battered broken body was place in a borrowed tomb for burial. Alone. It appeared so final. Loneliness seemed to be the victor in the end.
But there is good news my friend. Very good news. Jesus did not remain alone for long. In fact he did not stay in that tomb for long either. All it took was three days and loneliness no longer was a part of his life. From the very throne in heaven The Father exclaimed, “Son, it’s time to wake up. I have missed you!” And wake up he did!!!
He got up and He got OUT!
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay. ~Matthew 28:5-7~
From the moment Jesus rose and walked out of that cold tomb in all splendor and glory, victory overtook defeat.
Death was defeated…
Fear was defeated…
Despair was defeated…
Hopelessness was defeated…
Sickness was defeated…
LONELINESS was DEFEATED!
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Wow! That is a lot of revelation simply from holding a tiny figurine. But friend, what you must try to comprehend is that this is all so much bigger than what is apparent to only the human eye. That tiny figurine represents the greatest gift that was ever wrapped in flesh and has been given to anyone who will receive it. You see the infant Jesus was no ordinary baby. Jesus was born to die so we might live!
Though a bright shining star marked his place of birth in Bethlehem, the shadow of a cross was already in place to mark his place of death just outside of Jerusalem. A little baby…not just any baby…God’s own Son…sent from heaven…born in a messy stable…under messy circumstances…with messy animals…placed in a messy food trough for a crib. All this because God knew this messy world desperately needed a Savior. What a divine plan! What an amazing plan! What a God plan!
Jesus did it all and took it all for you and me and every other person in creation. He suffered and died so that our sins could be forgiven. It was the only way for mankind to be reconciled to the Father. And in the midst of doing what he was called to do, Jesus understood loneliness better than anyone else.
If you are reading this right now and you are going through a lonely time, please know you are not alone. There is One who understands your pain. Call out to him. He is just a cry away and his promise is to walk with you every step of the way.
For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ~Isaiah 41:13~
Photos by Rosie Williams