Having just arrived home for, among other things my sister’s wedding and Christmas, I have left the Middle East with new thoughts this year on the meaning and significance of Christmas.

On the words marked for December 13th, Oswald Chambers had great words for me to hear. I love reading Chambers because he helps me understand God’s word. And He knows better than anyone that I need help understanding it. In his brief discussion of intercessory prayer, Chambers says, “True intercession involves bringing the person, or the circumstance that seems to be crashing in on you, before God, until you are changed by His attitude toward that person.” He says that intercession is not simply sympathizing with someone, it is actually experiencing what they are experiencing. It is understanding their affliction. It is seeing them as God sees them. It is seeing the reality of redemption.

As I have interceded for my friends and colleagues back in Iraq, I have come to just an understanding of these people. I want for them more than anything, to see redemption. Every day, I see people whose lives have been ruined by the haunts of war. Some of these people have grown up in a country where they have never known a time of peace. Recognizing their suffering is part of the process of intercession.

Chambers then quotes the Apostle Paul as saying that we are to fill up with what is lacking in affliction. I take from this that as we intercede, we are to take upon ourselves the afflictions for those whom we are speaking on behalf of.

This is exactly what Jesus has taught us to do, and it is exactly what he did. He became flesh, to understand our problems. Then, he became sin, in order that we may become His righteousness. This is the meaning of Christmas. God came to the earth to share our sufferings, because he saw our redemption.

So, in light of this, in the Christmas season 2011, my focus is on understanding God’s efforts to understand our afflictions, while maintaining a vision of redemption. This, I hope to take back with me to the afflicted country where He has called me to be for the time being.