This December has been an especially spiritual time for our family because we purposed in our hearts to really focus on Christ’s birth and all that it means for us. One aspect of the “Christmas story” that weighs heavy on my heart in a new way is the desperation and destruction which followed the birth of Christ. As the only true hope came into this world, Herod did the unthinkable. In an attempt to kill the newborn King, he ordered all the male children 2-years-old and younger to be slaughtered, leaving many to ask, “why?”
Why would God allow this?
Why is this happening to us?
What can we do to protect our children?
Where can we find hope?
Over 2000 years later, as we watch the news of the tragedy in Connecticut unfold, we are asking the same questions. The pain of seeing the suffering these children and their families endured is overwhelming, even to us who live thousands of miles away. I cannot imagine what it must feel like for those families. But I would guess that those in Bethlehem two thousand years ago would know their pain. The world must have felt hopeless and dark as they were consumed with emotional pain.
For thousands of years, we have questioned why things happen, which is really our way of asking God why He allows these things to happen. When we look back, we can see that God was bringing the people of Bethlehem towards reconciliation with Himself. He was giving them His only Son so that they could believe and have eternal life. In dark and evil days, they cried out with grief and anguish. Many despaired, though perhaps a few would later hear and see Jesus and make the connection, knowing that it was due to the world’s hatred for Christ that their child had died.
But on that dark day, I wonder if any of them thought of the long-promised Messiah. I wonder if they knew Herod was searching for the King of the Jews. I wonder how the pain and despair affected their relationship with God. I wonder what Mary and Joseph thought when they had reached safety in Egypt. Did they question God’s plan or wish they had warned others?
As a precious baby, even His earliest presence on Earth exposed the dark sinfulness of those around him (like Herod). Jesus didn’t come to save a world that was happy and loving; He came into a dark and sinful world, full of sin. Being born into a dark and dirty stable is an incredible picture of the spiritual state of the world He was born into and not just a symbol of His humility.
As we search for answers in these very difficult times, we find our greatest comfort in who God is and what He has done. Our hopes in men and laws will not sustain us nor endure. We must hope in nothing less than Christ’s righteousness. Jesus came into a dark world to give His life for us! He came to buy us with His blood. He knows the pain that those precious children endured. He was a perfect, innocent, and blameless man who suffered at the hands of others.
What happened to those families in Bethlehem and Connecticut is devastating and heartbreaking. I wish it were untrue, but because it is — we cling to Christ more tightly and the hope that he brings for eternal life, in His presence and free of such evils.