“Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a young plant
and like a root out of dry ground.
He didn’t have an impressive form
or majesty that we should look at him,
no appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;
he was despised, and we didn’t value him.
4 Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
6 We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53: 1-6 CSB
Recently I sat in a psychiatrist’s office with my oldest daughter. As she began answering his questions, a trend emerged. He stopped the conversation and suggested a more pervasive explanation for all of her struggles and symptoms. Now our family is no stranger to suffering and we know what sickness is. However, we weren’t even looking for one more potential diagnosis, just help with some we already had. The problem is that this more pervasive diagnosis fits and fits very well. It explains much about my daughter, many things that we have struggled and wrestled with as parents. It explains things we have cried out to God about and argued with our daughter over for much of her life. We certainly weren’t always compassionate about these things! This was an answer given to us from the hand of God, an answer that came in a most unexpected way. This particular suggested answer for our daughter was not something we even wanted or sought out. It is painful, despised and rejected, you might even say, but it fits. We cannot change whether or not our daughter has this disorder by pursuing or not pursuing a diagnosis for her. The facts remain that she either does or does not have this disorder. Our willingness to acknowledge her condition does not change reality. It also won’t make her symptoms go away. In her case, there is not a cure. This will remain with her for life. Whether or not any of us acknowledge this, the deeper truth will remain.
Our sin is so similar. Whether or not we acknowledge our sin, it exists. It infects everything we do and impacts not only our entire earthly lives, but potentially our entire existence all the way through eternity. Fortunately for us, there is a cure for this condition, this all-encompassing disease that we cannot escape. There is a cure for this disease that causes us to destroy our bodies and souls. The one that causes us so much pain. The One despised and rejected by mankind brought the cure in His finished work. He came, a promised answer from the hand of God, in the most unannounced and unexpected form, a baby born to a poor family.
As a mother, I’ve learned the hard way that God gives unexpected, unannounced, and even unusual gifts. He gives gifts that don’t necessarily seem like gifts. He calls us to understand that His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. On our journey through life, this has often come to me through trials and difficulties. It’s come unexpectedly while driving, cooking, and cleaning as well as when I’m praying and studying His Word. Only when we stop and sit with Him daily; only when He helps us lift our eyes above the chaos and mess of our lives, can we even recognize His gifts. They come in unexpected forms. Thousands of years ago, a baby was born in a stable. That baby was hardly something that most of the world, gave a second glance. The world did not expect that baby to amount to much, and the world did not see this baby as the extravagant gift that He was and is. He was born to a poor family who came from a despised town. He had no appearance that we should desire Him. But God had plans for that baby, plans that would change everything for all eternity. God was that baby. A few decades later, that same baby, now man, was executed as a criminal on a cross. The world, for the most part, still did not take any notice of Him as He was pierced for our rebellion and crushed for our iniquities. This was the gift, the answer, given in an unexpected way. Far too few had eyes to see and ears to hear.
So often God’s gifts in unremarkable even seemingly broken things are something we miss. We see the worthiness in the cleaned up and intelligent. Not in the broken, ordinary, less visible, unsuccessful and struggling. However, we are called to have eyes to see and ears to hear beyond the brokenness. We are called to see the least of these. Just as He sent His Son in such an unexpected lowly way appearing as the least of these, despised and rejected, with no appearance that we should desire Him. He calls us to stop and notice the broken among us. This Christmas I pray we will all slow down. I pray we can all take the time to stop and notice the ordinary and unexpected gifts God gives, the people who are broken and in need of not just a temporary, but an eternal solution to their brokenness. The hope and peace He brings does cure everything. We can rejoice in that.