I have always been fascinated by ships in a bottle. How in the world do they get them inside? What magic does the shipbuilder hold? Then I saw a YouTube video on how the ships slide into the bottle and are consequently opened. The magic of it was blown for me. It’s like finding out that your mom’s handwriting matches Santa’s.
This Christmas, a little bit of my old ‘ship in the bottle’ fascination is rekindled as I put up one of my favorite bittersweet Christmas decorations—the tiniest nativity set I have ever seen.
Inside the two-inch bottle sits a tiny Mary and Joseph with an almost microscopic Jesus lying in a manger. Three gold stars hang upside down from the cork bottle stop.
Jesus in a bottle. How cool!
It would be, except that sometimes, holiday seasons are not filled with mistletoe, Santa parades, and holly jollies but instead tears, pain, and hopelessness.
Navigating depression is never easy, and it can be especially difficult during the “most wonderful time of the year.” The Christmas season seems only to highlight the resulting heaviness in the soul. Nobody exactly understands what it feels like to walk through life deadened to everything and everyone around you.
If you are struggling through grief, depression, or anxiety this Christmas season, do not let this particular gift of the tiny nativity pass you by.
Why? Because this special gift is given for you most of all.
The gift of the baby in the manger was not given for red-nosed reindeer, carefree children gathering candy from Christmas parades, or the hordes of shoppers looking for that special gift. In depression, none of those things seem to matter, anyway.
No, the gift of Jesus Christ was given to a hurting world whose hearts desperately need good news.
Christmas can surely feel like a slap in the face when your soul is in continual pain. But, take heart. If anything, this season speaks most to the ones whose hearts cry out in desperation, for Jesus Christ chose to come into a world filled with darkness. He came to bear suffering. He came to endure grief. He came to give new life to the hopeless. And it was this desperate world that needed the nativity.
Each time I look at the minuscule figures in the glass bottle, I marvel that though Jesus Christ came as an innocent baby, even He was not shielded from the harsh realities of the world.
First, in his pain, He personally identified with humankind.
Our Lord certainly had moments of snot and tears. He felt all of the ‘feels.’ In the Garden of Gethsemane, he was so pained that He sweat blood.
Hebrews 4:16 assures us that Jesus is the great high priest who sympathizes with every bit of weakness. He understands the misery of life on this fallen earth and gets what it feels like to be grieved. Jesus certainly grasps the pain of humanity.
But even more, Jesus understands the aching of us all.
For many, depression feels like an empty soul numbed to all of the needs screaming inside. Not only has Jesus met our need for a Savior, but He has met our longings in Himself. Right this minute, even in a moment of agony and despair, Father God is supplying all our needs “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Upon arriving at the tomb of his beloved best friend, Jesus saw Lazarus’ sister crying. He loved and cared for her pain so much that His emotions swelled up, and He wept despite knowing Lazarus would soon rise from the grave. He honored Mary’s pain with his very own. We can be very comforted by this empathy.
Jesus’ answer to every need is always answered by His own presence.
But most profoundly, Jesus understands your own specific pain.
In biblical times, people in the East sometimes put a small bottle beneath their eyes to catch their tears when mourning. This honors the sacred grief experienced during great distress. These small bottles could be made of thin glass (typically 3 to 6 inches tall) and symbolized the value of “preserving sacred emotions." (The Discovery Bible)
If you are struggling with heavy emotions at Christmas, know that this is where that tiny nativity bottle speaks the best.
Lord, you know all my desires and deepest longings. My tears are liquid words, and you can read them all. Psalm 38:9 TPT
You have taken account of my miseries; Put my tears in Your bottle. Psalm 56:8 NASB
My little nativity reminds me there’s much more to the decoration than merely a tiny Jesus in a bottle. It says I have a savior who cares about my pain so much that He catches every one of my cries. It says my Jesus embraces them in sacred honor. It says that my Lord understands my feelings and holds a mutual understanding of my tears.
And just where do those tears fall—right into the heart of our Lord Jesus.
Do you see it, my friend? Jesus holds your tears in His bottle—his very own body—so you can experience His life.
He understands. He knows. He exchanges grief for life.
It sounds impossible with how you feel right now, right? But this is where we choose, in faith, to believe the words of the One who will not let us down.
Whoever believes in [Jesus Christ] will never be put to shame. Romans 10:11
This beautiful gift promises that whatever you are going through today, you can finally have hopeful expectations for your life.
Keep your eyes on Christ and His goodness as you walk through this storm of sadness, grief, and loss. Your soul takes refuge in Him while He accomplishes all things for you.
The Lord will get you through—it’s promised all throughout His word.
Prayer: Lord, you know all my desires and deepest longings. My tears are liquid prayers, and you can read them all. Thank you for hearing each one and knowing my deepest pain and misery. I trust You and Your glorious love, Lord. I trust Your compassion and run to You just as I am. I look only to You to give me what I need. Despite what is going on around me, I dare to smile and believe Your precious Christmas promises are from You—to me.
From my heart to yours,
p.s. If this post has encouraged you in Jesus Christ, please link it to Facebook or Instagram. Thank you!