Christmas is the ultimate reminder that God cares about us. Jesus has come to bring healing to our painful world. But his work of redemption does not come from a place of abstract knowledge. Jesus works with an insiders knowledge of the pain we all see and suffer.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus’ family was quickly thrown into disarray. After receiving a message from God regarding the murderous intentions of King Herod, Jesus’ father, Joseph “rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.” (Matthew 2:14-15a)
I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Joseph, Mary and Jesus to get up in the night and make a dash for the Egyptian border 90 miles away. Fleeing for their lives, Joseph and Mary responded to circumstances which were beyond their control. A holiday to Egypt was not in the plan of this young family.
According to the United Nations, a person is a refugee who “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country”.
If I’m reading this correctly – Joseph, Mary and Jesus would qualify – they were officially refugees in Egypt.
There are over 40 million refugees in the world and the vast majority of them are in the developing world. I don’t know what it’s like to be uprooted from your home to flee to a another country for protection. But Jesus does.
The flight to Egypt was just the beginning for Jesus. The pain of rejection, the pain of betrayal, the pain of homelessness, the pain of loneliness, the pain of physical beatings, the pain of death – Jesus knows pain.
He personally understands the pain of this world. God doesn’t give us all the reasons why we suffer so much pain, but Jesus does understand it personally.
Even in the mystery of your heartache and the heartaches of this world – take comfort – Jesus understands. And he is working to make all things new.