There is nothing like a heart at rest in the Father’s love beneath the soothing glow of his goodness, especially when everything in your life tells you not to rest.
It’s easy to do when your circumstances are pleasant and joyful. Many of you will celebrate the next few days with family and friends who enjoy a depth of love and an abundance of life that makes your heart happy. That is to be relished with joy and gratitude.
However, I’m mostly thinking today of the many more of you for whom life is hard. This glorious rest of God is for you, too. In fact, the worse your circumstances are, the more you need to find your way inside a love so rich that no circumstance can touch it.
For those in grief at the passing of a loved one or a broken relationship you’ve been unable to mend, I pray you will know the reality of Emmanual—God-with-you! May his friendship and love swallow up with joy that lack of any other you don’t have today.
For those facing a scary medical diagnosis, an unforeseen bill you can’t pay, or potential layoffs at your work, I pray that God will win you into a trust in him greater than all your uncertainties. He has a way of walking with you through the greatest of needs, caring for you along the way, and leading you to freedom.
Some may find these words while crouched in a war zone or paralyzed by flood or famine. May you know that Jesus has not lost track of you. He has his eyes on you, understands the unfairness you suffer, and has a tender place in his heart for you to rest.
And for those who have toxic family members who make it difficult or even impossible to celebrate Christmas with a family you love, may you know the joy of belonging to him and being included in a family far larger than you can see. May God hold you close to his heart and overwhelm every sense of loneliness with the richness of his presence.
And for those battling deep despair and darkness, this season often hits hardest as others enjoy the day, oblivious to your pain. God not only knows of your discomfort, he also holds it deeply in his heart. Your tears are his tears; your anguish is his anguish. And though there doesn’t appear to be a way through this for you, he is inviting you to crawl up in his lap and take your rest there. His way to healing will become more apparent from that spot.
So how do you find that rest if it seems a million miles away? Find a quiet space and submit yourself to his goodness. Tell him your doubts and fears, asking him to make himself known to you. Don’t be afraid of your tears; let them wash away the lies of darkness. Stay in that quiet place until his fountain within your heart begins to flow like a spring. It will start very slowly, just a trickle, perhaps. But stay with him. What thoughts is he giving you there? What comfort do you sense from outside yourself?
Linger there and come back often. Don’t keep on running from your pain or from him by staying busy or filling your mind with empty entertainment. Jesus will be faithful to you. He will watch over you with his love. He will give you light for the path ahead. You are not alone; you never have been.
And this is not just for this season but for every day ahead. “Strive to enter that rest” is how the writer of Hebrews termed it. What does that mean? It doesn’t mean more Bible reading or logging more prayer hours. It means to cease from those labors and everything else you use to try to save yourself. Our work is to stop working and find comfort and safety in him.
It’s there for you. Please don’t give in to any lie that says it isn’t. He is sufficient in you; all you need to do is turn your eyes to him and watch what he can do for you.
Sara and I pray that you’ll find your rest in him, regardless of your challenges. He is good. He is loving. He is kind toward you.
May your heart be at rest in him this season, if only because you are becoming increasingly settled in his love, knowing that nothing is too big for him and his arms are strong enough to hold you close to his heart.
And he will be there waiting for you every day of your life.
Sara and I want to leave you with a personal greeting for a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We don’t take lightly those of you who grant us access to your hearts and stories throughout the year. We are grateful that you find some of these resources encouraging for your own journey, and we are always enriched to hear how he is working with you. We are looking forward to how he will invite us to follow him in the year ahead and how we share his goodness in the world.
With love to you all…