Whether or not you are a follower of Jesus, likely you are familiar with stories of how our heavenly father, how Jesus forgave sinners. This time of year is a difficult time for families that have been torn apart following some outrageous action by a family member who is now an outcast because of their behaviour. Many caregivers have this additional burden to bear as they are caring for a loved one but estranged from other family members.
From personal experience I know the pain and shame of this rejection and the bitter loss of the warmth, comfort and identity that comes from family relationships and gatherings.
More than 3,000 years ago King David had an affair with a woman married to one of his soldiers. When he found out that she was pregnant, he secretly had her husband killed and then married her. When he was confronted by the prophet Nathan over what he had done and the coming punishment from God, he was heart-broken. Here is Psalm 51 which he wrote at that time.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
King David is suffering, yet asking for mercy, for the restoration of relationship that he might then teach sinners how to get back on the right path.
I feel deeply the pain of two men I know who are outcast from their families, who will not be at Christmas gatherings… and I weep for them.
Pray for them and pray for any broken families you know who are suffering this Christmas season.