“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18
When family relationships are loving and healthy, there is truly no place like home for the holidays.
A large number of us, however, find ourselves in homes that are fragmented by some degree of relational discord. Instead of blissful family togetherness, we experience the heartache of family dysfunction. Christmas often brings more pain and frustration than comfort and joy.
I’ve been there. Have you?
We ask ourselves, “Where is God?”
David gives us an answer: “The Lord is close.”
The Hebrew word for “close” means “close enough to touch.” When we are brokenhearted by difficult family relationships and exhausted by unending family drama, the Lord is not distant. He is as near to us as one second is to the next.
David certainly had his share of family dysfunction, but that’s not the situation in Psalm 34. This Psalm was written after he pretended to be insane in order to protect himself from his #1 enemy – the Philistines. Reflecting on this event, he testified that the Lord had “delivered him from all his fears” (v4) and invited others to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (v8).
But how can we share David’s testimony when we’re once again facing holiday despair?
We can be reminded that the story of Christmas is not just warm and fuzzy sentimentality, unacquainted with hardship. Christmas is the true story of the Eternal God, born in a humble manger to a people suffering under Roman oppression. The Lord stepped into this world, which was shattered by the effects of sin, to offer salvation to weary sinners. Also called the Son of David, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David, to demonstrate forever that He is “close to the brokenhearted” and “saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Christmas proves that the closeness of God is not just something we believe to make ourselves feel better. It’s the annual reminder that prevents His closeness from being an abstract concept.
Each year, Christmas invites us to celebrate a God Who moves toward the broken, not away from them.
How do we really know that He is “close enough to touch?” Jesus took on flesh and dwelled among us. What can possibly be more tangible than that?
I love David’s response to the Lord’s closeness. He declares in verse 1, “I will extol the Lord at all times. His praise is always on my lips.”
David is challenging us to worship the Lord in all seasons. If you’re in the middle of a challenging holiday season, don’t cease to worship. It’s okay if your worship is honest, raw, and chocked full of emotion. The Lord can handle it. What matters is that you come to Him as you are and not walk away from Him.
And if your home is full of joy this Christmas, remember to pray for the brokenness around you. Chances are, you probably have a neighbor who needs your prayers.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH