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I woke up with a tension headache again this morning. While I’d like to think I can manage stress at this point in my life, the knots down my neck and across my shoulders are telling a different story, one forged through the twists and turns of a global pandemic that we all thought would be a thing of the past by now.
This week San Diego went into lockdown again, forcing Joe and me to pare down Christmas until it feels like the Grinch himself is calling the shots. For decades we have hosted our family Christmas Eve celebration, replete with a panorama of Danish traditions my mom brought into our home as a young bride.
Letting my friends and family know we wouldn’t be hosting this year has been excruciating for me—not only because of my own sense of loss, but the disappointment I knew many of them would feel. I didn’t realize how much this weighed on me until this morning as I read these words from the prophet Isaiah: “And the government shall be on his shoulders.”
In this prophecy of Christ that was penned hundreds of years before he came, the Hebrew word for government suggests wrestling until one wins the power. In that agrarian society, where most people survived through manual labor, the image of that fight being hefted like a load onto one’s back, spoke volumes. As I massaged my tense shoulders, I pondered how Jesus came to contend in my place, to wrestle to the point of death so that he could lift the burdens of brokenness and disappointment and sadness and sin from my shoulders.
Tears began to flow as I envisioned just that—all the weight I have been carrying for days, sliding off of me and onto his shoulders—and as I did, the headache gradually disappeared.
I am not under the illusion that I’ll be stress-free from now on, or that headache won’t come back, but today, in this moment, my heart is captivated by the eternal beauty of a Savior who came to earth to carry our burdens and fight for our souls. COVID restrictions have lost their capacity to cancel my Christmas joy in light of this.
12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONALS
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Tricia McCary Rhodes
Author of 7 books and pastor of Global Leadership Development at All Peoples Church in San Diego, Tricia specializes in helping others experience God’s presence through practicing soul-care.