Have you ever been on a long road trip? Most of us have. The first road trip I ever went on was when I was in elementary school and my grandparents decided to take me with them to Florida in an RV. It was about a 24-hour trip. At first I was excited about it, but then after about 1 hour I asked the question: “Are we there yet?” And for the next 23 hours I would ask that question over and over again. My grandfather got frustrated with me and I never understood his frustration until I took my children on a road trip.
Herod is king when Jesus is born in Bethlehem. He hears about some wise men from the east coming to worship “the king of the Jews.” Herod is disturbed by this, because he is king, and now someone is being born will replace him … never!!! He secretly meets the Magi and says, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him” (Matthew 2:8). Herod did not want to come and worship – He wanted to scope out the competition.
The Magi are then told in a dream to not go back to Herod and tell him where the Christ-child was going to be born. Herod is furious. He gives the order to murder every boy under the age of 2. But Mary and Joseph flee to Egypt to protect Jesus! I want us to focus on Herod because he symbolizes something we all struggle with as people … LOSS. And this becomes so much bigger during the holidays.
- If you lost your job it becomes difficult to buy gifts for your wife or children.
- If you lost a family member this year the holidays become difficult because this is the first one without them.
- If you lost your health it may be difficult to be thankful because of the challenge you are facing.
Maybe this year your marriage broke up or a friend turned their back on you – and this year has been marked by a loss of relationship! And seeing people holding hands celebrating the holidays frustrates you because you are alone. And when things don’t go your way you feel like you have lost your way or lost your purpose and Christmas becomes a burden.
All of us have to learn how to handle loss – how to deal with the reality that things did not go well and now I have to put on a phony smile and act like everything is ok. You see, King Herod was feeling he was about to lose some things – his position, his power and his presence over that region. And he did not handle it the right way. He handled loss with deceit, manipulation and murder.
And I know that many have faced loss this year and may be even fearing loss in the future! You see, I am not sure you can enjoy the holiday season – Christmas – without first looking at your challenges. Maybe you feel like the Charlie Brown Christmas is your annual tradition – but I believe if we can learn some lessons from the life of Herod in this story we will come out better, not bitter.
You may feel like the only one who is having a difficult time right now. Can I give you some news – “You are not.” There are a lot of people all around us that are facing loss – they aren’t excited about putting up the lights or buying a tree or even shopping for gifts.
And you are asking God, “Are we there yet?” What you are asking: “Is this season over?” “I don’t know if I can handle any more.” “The drive has been too long – I am exhausted, discouraged and hurting.”
Let me encourage you today – Paul facing some difficulty said: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns”(Philippians 1:6).
God is going to get you there. He is going to finish what he has started in your life! Herod could not handle the potential loss of his position and power because he did not embrace Jesus. I have discovered this: “It is impossible to handle great loss without a great Savior.” Herod rejected Jesus … he resisted him.
Handling loss is made easier in Jesus, not easy, but easier!