As 2023 draws to a close, my new life in Tanzania is about to begin. I am grateful to make new friends in a land I had only dreamt to live in. I believe with my whole heart that God is gifting me with this precious opportunity and so my thoughts are of Him.
In Matthew 9:35-36, we read: “Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.”
We may not feel like a “sheep without a shepherd”, but many of us know what it’s like to feel “weary and worn out.” Sometimes, in our stubbornness to “do it all on our own”, we extend ourselves beyond what we can reasonably accomplish. Sometimes, we say “yes”, when we should say, “Let me think about that, or let me pray about that.” Both responses give us time to consider the details of the request and to be certain it’s something we can accomplish in the time we have available.
Sometimes, we turn down help because we believe we can do it better than others. Sometimes, we push ourselves past our ability to complete tasks in relation to a deadline because we believe it’s what we have to do so others can see how capable we are. Sometimes, we become lost in the never-ending maze of trying “to do it all to have it all”. Compassion for others dwindles as compassion for ourself is minimized.
We don’t know why people in the crowds were weary and worn out, but we do know that Jesus came to show us how much God the Father loves us. It’s good news that the compassion that flows out of God’s love has no expiry date!
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are filled with the stories of Jesus’ life on earth including His conception; His birth; and His growing years. The many signs, wonders, and miracles He performed during His ministry demonstrate His compassion for people. His death and resurrection are vital components of the story of salvation. Some Bibles place these events in chronological order which helps us to take a fresh look at His life.
Before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He said He was not leaving us as orphans. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is ours for the asking; He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Then Jesus said in John 14:18: “… I am coming to you.”
The Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ second coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
As we recall Jesus’ time on earth through the words of the familiar hymns and Bible readings, let’s be encouraged and remember – Jesus is coming to us again.
Let's remember that we can't out love or out give God. His mercies toward us are new every morning.
May God's love and comfort surround you, and may His blessings always exceed your needs! Amen.
Much of this message first appears in the December 21, 2023, column - Annie's Journal - which can be found in the North Simcoe Springwater News: firstname.lastname@example.org