“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping in loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children. She refused to be comforted because they are no more.”
– Matthew 2:18
This is the chapter that contains the birth of Jesus. It’s a glorious high point in all of history and in all of the Bible.
Matthew 2:18 Speaks of Jesus’ Birth but also of Great Sorrow
At the same time, isn’t it striking that it also contains such sorrow and sadness? As Herod becomes furious, Matthew 2:16 says, and he sends and kills all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or younger. Matthew writes that then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. And the verse I read from Matthew 2:18 comes directly from Jeremiah 31:15, a time of lamentation and weeping among God’s people in the Old Testament. So why do we have these two pictures side by side, the birth of Jesus and sorrow and death and evil right next to each other?
Oh, see the wonder and the beauty and the hope of the gospel. This is why Jesus came. He came to a sinful, fallen world marked by evil and sorrow and death. He came to bring hope in the middle of it. I choose this verse to lead us to pray according to. I know there are people listening to this right now who are walking through sorrow. People who have experienced or are experiencing evil done against them.
You’re walking through situations that involve weeping or loud lamentation and needing comfort. And I just want to comfort you from God’s word with the reality, this is why Jesus came. He came for you and your weeping and your lamentation. Jesus came for you and your sorrow and your sadness and your suffering. He came for you and me in a world of sin and evil and suffering and death.
Matthew 2:18 Speaks of Great Hope amidst Great Sorrow
He came to give us hope in the middle of it that this world is not the end of the story. That sin and evil are not the end of the story. That for all who trust in Him, salvation from sin and ultimate salvation from suffering is yours. That He came so that one day He himself will wipe every tear from your eyes and sin will be no more and evil will be no more and suffering will be no more and death will be no more. This is the hope we have because Jesus came, because he came to save us from our sins, to conquer death and to rise from the grave and ascend into heaven so that in our comfort, He might send the comforter, so that in our sorrow, He might send his peace, and in our grieving, we can grieve with hope.
So I just pray this. Right now, God, over anyone and everyone listening to this who’s walking through this kind of time, sorrow, lamentation, suffering, hurt, pain. God, I pray that your word in a fresh way by your spirit, the comforter would comfort them, strengthen them, hold them up. Jesus, we praise you for not staying distant from us in this world of sin and suffering, but coming to us all. Glory be to your name for emptying yourself and taking on the nature of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Coming to us, for living among us, for experiencing evil done against you, suffering and sorrow in your own heart and life, and for conquering sin and evil and death and the grave and for ascending into heaven, where right now you’re at the father’s right hand, ready and willing to give us everything we need, interceding for us by your spirit.
All glory be to your name, Jesus. I pray these realities would fall fresh on hurting hearts right now. God, we pray together that you would use our lives, our families and churches to spread this good news throughout this fallen world.
Praying for the Japanese People
We pray, especially today for the Japanese people, for 118 million of them in Japan who have little to no knowledge of Jesus, where for years, decades, centuries, people’s eyes have been blinded. God, we pray that you would bring a breakthrough in Japan. Lord, cause the good news of Jesus to shine light amidst the spiritual darkness all over that country. God, we ask for that.
We pray that you would send out laborers. God that you would bless laborers who are there. Bless Japanese churches and missionaries. God, we pray that as light shone in Matthew 2, that light would shine in the darkness of Japan. Lord that there would be a movement of your spirit for the glory of Jesus’ name among people in that country.
God, we pray all of this in light of your word in Matthew 2:18. In Jesus’ name, amen.