For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
A holiday such as Christmas can be particularly difficult following a deep loss, heavy grief, stinging disappointment, or season of struggle. There are gifts to purchase and wrap, parties to attend, cards to mail, trees to trim, and decorations to put up, and it can all feel overwhelming and empty.
Yet, these traditions are merely connected to the holiday of Christmas which is very different from the event of Christmas. If you’re hurting, the holiday of Christmas may be hard to immerse yourself in, but the Christmas event is especially for you.
God the Son didn’t leave the glories of heaven and take on human flesh as a tiny developing embryo in the womb of Mary for our wish lists, or our parties, or our staged photo cards. He wasn’t born a helpless baby in a lowly manger for our trimmed trees or festive decor.
He came for our broken hearts and our shattered lives. He came to bear the weight of our sin and the burden of our suffering. Jesus didn’t come to give us a holiday; He came to give us life. Abundant life (John 10:10).
Maybe you’re facing a season of suffering and grief. Maybe you have questions for which there are no easy answers. Maybe tears run down your cheeks without warning. Maybe deep down inside you are weary and worn disappointed with yourself or with others.
If that is you, then you are the very person for whom Jesus came.
In the middle of all the suffering, all the questions, all the tears, and all the weariness this season, there is a Light that bursts through the darkness.
There is a baby lying in a manger, fully God and fully man. There is a bright, glorious star shining overhead; there are shepherds on bended knee, and wise men mounting camels, preparing for a long journey.
Yes, it is Christmas…the time of year we remember that God, our Creator, heard the groanings of His people and saw the desperation of our hearts and provided His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the answer.
Our suffering doesn’t exclude us from celebrating Christmas, it invites us to experience its real meaning and power.
The trees, presents, and festivities may seem shallow in light of the brokenness of this world and our experiences in it but not the real meaning of Christmas. There is nothing shallow about a love so big the Holy Son of God would come to take on the sin and suffering of His people dying in our place on the cross and then bursting through the grave as our victorious Savior (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
And remember, He who did not fail to come will not fail to come again (John 14:3). The broken hearts and broken lives we carry this Christmas remind us that the work Christ finished in His birth, life, death, and resurrection has not, yet, been fully realized. Yes, God’s kingdom has come. Already Jesus is making all things new beginning with those who place their faith in Him, but this work is not complete.
We still live in a broken, fallen world. We still battle sin daily. We still experience suffering and loss and disappointment and separation. We still grieve…but not without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13), and one day our hope will be made reality and our longings will be turned to enjoyment.
Christmas reminds us that God keeps His promises. Jesus came as was promised, and He will return as was promised (Hebrews 9:28). The day is coming when every tear will be wiped from our eyes and death will be no more, neither mourning nor crying nor pain. All those things will be gone forever. (Revelation 21:4)
Between the here and now and the there and then, God is with us. His Spirit comforts us (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), grows us in spiritual maturity (Galatians 5:22-23), gives us wisdom (James 1:5), and confirms us in our faith and hope (Ephesians 1:13-14).
This year the Christmas holiday may not feel magical, but don’t miss the miracle of the Christmas event. Take your groanings, your tears, and your weariness, and place them before the manger where the answer to it all lays wrapped in swaddling clothes. God came for us, He is with us, and He is coming for us, and that is good news of great joy for all people (Luke 2:8-12).