I don’t need to tell you how hard life can be. How you have to deal with pain that pierces your soul. Or feel so out of control it’s as if you’re on a runaway roller coaster. Or what it’s like to be so depressed you know exactly what the 23rd Psalm means when it speaks of the valley of the shadow of death. Or the experience of waking up in the middle of the night and wondering if your life has any real purpose. 

These things are real. And they can never be dismissed or diminished. But there’s something more real than the most real pain, struggle or failure you ever feel. And it is available to you right now. It is Jesus’ love that takes every single thing that happens in your life – especially those things that you most want to hide – and embraces them in his love that changes everything about everything. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if you have questions, or even doubts, about how this can be true. And I also know there are lots of things churches do that make it difficult to take it seriously. I understand because, if I am honest, there are days that’s exactly where I am. Yet I know this. The whole point of Jesus’ coming – fully human and fully divine all at the same time – was to share the gift of this transforming love at the very moment it was most needed, but least expected. Not just long ago – and for other people. But now – and for you.