Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

On our first Christmas after my parents got divorced, the hope of experiencing all the “comfort and joy” of the holidays seemed to fall on my shoulders. I am the oldest of four children, and I was about 23 at the time. It was in the midst of my duplicitous act of helping my mom with some Christmas baking — which would justify taking some for my domestically challenged father — that I broke. I couldn’t bear this burden alone, and yet there didn’t seem to be anyone I could turn to.

After a choked up confession to my mom, I went out into the winter night, and ended up weeping on the stoop of a darkened office building. It was at that point where I heard the inaudible voice of God: “Thomas, I see all of this, I care, and I am angry.” It meant so much to me that my heavenly Father was angry at all the destruction that sin had done in my family.

Although it may seem as though God is indifferent to the pain in my life, I can be comforted that His apparent indifference is but an illusion. At the cross, everyone believed the God had abandoned His Son. But that couldn’t have been further from the truth. Jesus had to die in order to accomplish something far more beautiful: the redemption of the whole of humanity.

As I gaze upon the cross, I can know that He is near, He cares, and He is powerful enough to do anything.

Father, help me to recognize when I am examining the world in order to understand who You are, rather than looking to Your word and more specifically, at Christ. Please open my heart to the depths of who He is and what He has done for me.

“blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  John 20:29

In our world where scientific, rationalistic thinking is highly prized, it seems preposterous, even unwise, to state with assurance that one’s entire life on earth – and beyond – is based on the unseen.

One follower of Christ, heartbroken and disillusioned after seeing the violent beatings and unspeakably horrible death of this One he loved, simply could not believe that Jesus was now alive. Even the testimony of those who claimed to have seen Him was suspect. It took the physical presence of Jesus, the sight of scars and sound of His voice, to finally elicit a statement of faith: “My Lord and my God.”

Carlo Carretto writing in, In Search of the Beyond, states: “I began to know Jesus as soon as I accepted Jesus as truth.”  Today God calls us to believe before seeing, but once that step of faith – acknowledging the truth of Christ – is taken, an increasingly intimate “knowing” of Jesus begins. We can be one of those blessed ones who have not seen and yet have believed.

Thank you, Father, that you only ask for small faith in Jesus before you begin the mighty work of transformation.