Journal Ps 133 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there (brothers dwelling in unity) the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Ps 133:1-3
Observation: How important is unity, harmony, among believers? There is life, blessing, forevermore. A good thing to pursue!!
Analysis: Today is Christmas, a time to celebrate and give thanks for His Birth. Decorations have been set up, trees decorated – some over the top – presents purchased or made under the tree, houses lit up and power bills soar. Families gather and good cheer abounds almost miraculously.
It is not like that for everyone. Christmas can be among the worst times of a year because of loneliness, feelings of superficiality, and separation. It can be the epitome of 365 days of the same longing for friends and family and an acute awareness of division and estrangement.
It is like that for my wife and me. We are acutely aware of what should be happening with our hearts, and yet, the fight is fierce to get there. The tendency is to separate, and decisions are made to be alone to struggle and not share sorrow.
If someone were to seek counsel from me, I could probably provide a 5-step scriptural essay to fuel a biblical response to NOT do what I do in 30 minutes. Or give a practical instruction to address the despondent attitude. But…they are not working for me, right now, today.
The first verse of Ps 133 addresses the good things about dwelling in unity; feeling the sensation of purpose within a group…family. I don’t get the oil in the hair and beard and clothes—must have been a thing back then—but I do get the idea.
Today, we are staying to ourselves because if I am going to be sad and despondent, we will do so alone. We don’t want to whine ‘Woe is me’, and yet that is exactly what I am doing here.
Writing this is for all the folks that are feeling like this in some way. The first way to cut yourself out of this is to understand that we have a Savior, and the scriptures indicate that Jesus experienced feelings and emotions JUST LIKE THIS—in order to understand what individuals go through.
- “Therefore, he had to be made like his brothers IN EVERY RESPECT, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Heb 2:17
- “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are (yet without sin).” Heb 4:15
Start here, confess these feelings to your Savior, knowing that He encountered them and overcame them, so that He knows what is being felt. It may be difficult to drop them 2 feet from a lump of gray matter between the ears to a heart that is trying to be faithful. Keep at it, try not to relax through the holidays—fight.
Others that are not experiencing these feelings: I don’t think it is fair to call on you, on your jubilee of Christmas, to deal with this. These are actions that are best being cumulative over the year, not dealing with in an emergency room manner. Go where God leads you—but listen and don’t ignore like I do.
Prayer: Father, please help us to get through this. Change our hearts, and our minds to think in a manner worthy of the Gospel. We are holding uncharitable thoughts leading to bitterness, just because we have nobody to talk to, no one who we feel understands, but is willing to deal straight with us. I can remember bits and pieces of Your Word, but the anguish drowns out the application.
Help us, O God. We need your mercy.