THE SERVANT GENERAL
CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2010
JOB AND CHRISTMAS
year the Lord took us to the book of Job. In doing this,
God has many lessons for us. But one distinctive feature
of the story of Job is the suffering he underwent. Before
we end this year, and as we celebrate the coming of Jesus
the Savior into the world, we take a look at how Christmas
and the lessons of Job intersect. Redemptive suffering happened
not just on the cross, but right during the time and circumstances
of Jesus’ birth.
is a season of joy, of celebration, of peace and reconciliation,
of counting blessings, of great hope. As such it is very
positive. But as we look closely at what happened that very
first Christmas, and of course the birth of Jesus is the
most positive event in the life of the world, we also realize
that in the surrounding circumstances there was much suffering
and pain. For Christmas to happen, God’s instruments
are called to give of themselves and to endure the suffering
The serenity of the faces of Joseph and Mary belie the difficulties
they endured. Mary traveled some distance to visit her relative
Elizabeth to help out with her pregnancy (Lk 1:39-40). Then,
heavy with child, Mary had to travel a long distance to
Bethlehem to register for the census (Lk 2:1-5). Then there
was no room for them in the inn and Mary had to give birth
in a manger (Lk 2:7). Then they had to flee from Herod who
sought to kill the child, and took another long journey
to Egypt (Mt 2:13-14). The coming of Jesus was accompanied
by suffering. Such of course was redemptive suffering, to
the highest degree, as Mary gave birth to the Savior of
story of Christmas is also the story of selfless giving,
which is always accompanied by self-denial with its attendant
pain. Mary was greatly troubled with the angel Gabriel’s
annunciation, and even though she could not quite understand
what was to happen, she gave her unqualified yes (Lk 1:26-38).
Joseph had his difficulty too, faced with the unexpected
pregnancy of his betrothed. But he too heeded the angel’s
words and proceeded with God’s plan (Mt 1:24). The
plan of God proceeds on the assent, consent and cooperation
of those called, as they give of themselves selflessly and
put their trust fully in God.
Jesus is born. The King of kings, God Himself, has come
into the world. But who are there to witness this momentous
event? Only Joseph and Mary, the magi (Mt 2:11), and the
lowly shepherds (Lk 2:15-16). But wait. There was also “a
multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising
God” (Lk 2:13).
What then are the lessons that Christmas has for us?
we will suffer in the world, especially as we do God’s
work, most especially as we bring the Savior into the lives
of people in the world, but such suffering is redemptive.
As such, as is fitting for Christmas, no matter how much
we have suffered, we rejoice.
in responding to God’s call, we are to give of ourselves
selflessly, not counting the cost. We are to deny ourselves.
And like Job, we do not need God to explain why He does
things or why He allows us to be afflicted. We simply look
to His awesome majesty, and put our trust fully in Him who
is just and righteous.
as we do our work for God, even as we are able to accomplish
great things for Him, we might not be recognized or appreciated,
and we might even be criticized, maligned, oppressed, persecuted.
We must not look to personal glory or acclaim. We must not
be discouraged if there are only a few people around us
who appreciate us. We should simply realize that, even as
others fail to give approval, God knows what we do. And
God, together with the heavenly host, rejoices.
Have a blessed Christmas.