I recently heard this lyric:
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t hold.
Sometimes I wonder if our conception of heaven as painless and perfect makes us think that it–and the God who dwells there–is distant from our current pain and imperfection. That wonderful place above can’t understand our circumstances here below. We find ourselves feeling alone, without a sense of God’s compassion, because we believe God is up in heaven, enjoying its perfection and conveniently leveraging his divinity to ignore the messiness of imperfection down below.
The opposite is actually the truth.
Heaven draws near to our pain. The God of Heaven can actually take it from us, absorbing it into himself. The work of the incarnation is for Jesus to pull it all into himself so that it can be taken out of us, someday.
There is a magnetic pull between Jesus and us, so strong that he opted for earth when he could have chosen Heaven.
[Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. -Phil 2:6-7
Heaven can hold every sorrow because the God of heaven has felt every sorrow. And God feels them both as the supreme, divine creator and sustainer of all, as well as a person like us. That intersection, divinity and humanity, is the axis of compassion.
In seminary I took a class on the book of John, where it’s recorded that Jesus wept. Our professor asked how we interpret this break in the story of resurrecting Lazarus.
I passed on what I’d always heard about it--it shows his humanity that he cried.
Why, she asked, does it not show his divinity as well?
Welcome, Christmas, the season that invites us to bring all imperfection, all pain, all grief, all sorrow to an infant God in a manger.