“When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.” (Matthew 2:3 ESV)
Someone asked me once, “But why was Jerusalem troubled along with King Herod?” I was very surprised. Then I realized they’d probably never worked or lived with an abusive person. When your abuser is upset, believe me, you know it. You’re afraid to be his next target.
This makes daily life a misery, of course. But it does something else—it can also mess up the way you think about God. If someone in authority over you mistreats you in serious ways, you can start to wonder: Is God abusive too? Will He understand the situation I am in or the mistake I made? Will He forgive, or will He berate me and make me feel two inches tall? Even though our minds know better, our hearts still expect a blow.
Jesus understands this, and He is immeasurably gentle with those of us who have suffered harm like this. His patience and kindness are deep, so deep. As Isaiah puts it, “He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a faintly burning wick He will not quench” (Isaiah 42:2-3a). God Himself has suffered abuse—what else was the cross, and what went before it?—and come out the other side, in His resurrection. And He will lead us to share in that same new life with gentleness, teaching us to trust an atom at a time—because His love is real. He will wait for us as long as it takes.
Prayer: Dearest Lord, thank You for Your patience with me. Amen.
* How did you first learn about God?
* How did that impact the way you think about God?
* How can you make sure others see Jesus clearly through you?
Advent Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on January 1, 2023
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved