“We may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” —2 Corinthians 1:4
As wonderful as the truth of Christmas is, and as fun and beautiful as our holiday celebrations can be, for many of us, this season can also be painful. Christmas in the present tends to remind of Christmases in the past, not just the first and most important one (when Jesus was born) but also our own Christmases with family and friends. When we’re so aware of specific dates on the calendar, we almost can’t help but think of when that date has come around before.
And in many ways, for most of us, that’s good! We cherish these memories. But we also have less pleasant memories—times we’ve been hurt, times we’ve been disappointed, times we’ve lost something or someone important to us. And sometimes even the best memories remind us of better times, or of times when someone we’ve lost was still around. Sometimes, when we’re really not doing well at all (and we all have those times), the wonderful good news of Christmas just reminds us how much we’re struggling, how alone we are, how lost we are.
The good news of God-with-us in Jesus Christ doesn’t immediately remove us from these hard times. To believe in Jesus is not to deny that hard times and pain and loss are real. But God’s consolation does promise two things: (1) God is not far from us when things are bad. (2) Hard times and pain and loss are real, but they won’t have the final word.
One role of our fellow believers is to share comfort and consolation with us when we are afflicted by the pains of life. This doesn’t mean denying the reality of suffering. Rather, it means being present, being compassionate, and living with a quiet, humble, strong hope.
When times are good, may we be consolers who share the consolation we’ve all received in Jesus Christ. And when times are bad, may we know the strong love of our Heavenly Father who draws near in our hurt and pain and brokenness, our good God of consolation, mercy, and grace.