In November 1992 HM Queen Elizabeth gave a speech at London’s Guildhall that included the following:

“1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’”

The Queen had indeed had a horrible year in 1992, as had many other Britons for any number of reasons. As time has gone on and the world has faced more and more problems an increasing number of its citizens might be tempted to reflect on 2013 and consider that it has been an ‘annus horribilis.’ I know that I could. If I am honest this has been a difficult year in many ways, made worse by the knowledge that some of the problems we have faced as a family will not end on 31 December 2013.

Despite how most of us feel 2013 has treated us we can be certain that there are people who have had a far worse year. Most of us do not live in a country where warring factions bring death and destruction daily. We do not wake up cold, and we do not wake up hungry. But we do face difficulties, stress, and demands on our time and lives that on occasions seem unbearable. It is important to remember that the unbearable events of life are only temporary, and can be made bearable through relationship with the Giver of life Himself. Because God gave and continues to give it is possible to survive the so-called daily grind, if we realise and accept that He is walking through it all with us. Why would we not want to share our troubles and burdens with the One who said:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)

There is another reason and it involves God’s deep understanding of humanity, gained first hand through the earthly life of His Son. Jesus wasn’t born into a palace. He was born in a cow shed. His parents were poor. Soon after His birth Jesus became a refugee – an asylum seeker in a foreign country. As a young adult Jesus trained and worked as a carpenter. He knew about working long hours on a minimum wage. Jesus knew what it was like to be hungry and He knew what it was like to feel pain. He watched as close friends betrayed Him and family members let Him down. Jesus knew how to laugh and He knew how to cry. Ultimately He knew how to die, and that is how he bore the greatest burden of all. The year that Jesus died was not an annus horribilis for God. It was the year that He opened Heaven and demonstrated the meaning of that first ever Christmas to the world. What a gift! Given in love to everyone.