Christmas is not all merry and bright, at least for some of us that is.
For some of us, Christmas is heavier, it’s more painful, and the last thing we want to do is put on a smile, sing carols, or make Christmas cookies.
For some of us, the merriness and joy that are associated with Christmas just brings a startlingly distinction between our pain and other’s joy, the pressure put on us by commercialism to feel joy just makes everything that much more difficult.
Everyone is red and green, but you feel blue.
The “fake” Christmas tells us that we have to feel happy, have “perfect” Hallmark family moments, make beautiful Christmas cookies, and buy/recieve the best presents in order to feel joyous and content, not to mention completely glossing over the pain that many of us feel.
However, the real Christmas doesn’t ignore our pain. The real Christmas invites our pain in, invites us to feel everything to its full extent, and if we turn to the first few chapters of Matthew and Mark, we’ll see that the first Christmas was anything but merry and bright.
Let’s look at the parents of Jesus for example:
Mary – Among the excitement and anticipation that the Angel’s message brought, much doubt, confusion, and fear probably accompanied it. She was betrothed to be married, she hadn’t said her marriage vows, and yet here she was with child. She would show soon and be subject to the whispers, rumors, and cruel words from her native people.
As I write this, I’m trying to insert myself into her shoes. What must have she been thinking? Of her family perhaps? Of the shame it would bring them when the word got out she was pregnant without being married first? The stress and weight of the few nine months of her life as they stretched out before her unclear and uncertain.
And what of Joseph?
Joseph – He’s just gotten word that his soon-to-be wife is pregnant–and not by him–and she’s saying that God has placed a child in her womb, that an angel came to her and told her that the child would be the son of the most high God. Yeah, like he was going to believe that. He surely loved her, and her confession that she was pregnant outside marriage must have hurt his heart, hurt him, cast doubt in his mind about her loyalty to him, for how can something like this be?
I imagine he wrestled with the information, asked her again and again, how it could be true, battled with God, the sleepless nights, and the breaking of his heart as he came to the decision to marry his love and then quietly divorce her afterwards in an effort to spare her name.
Does either of their stories sound merry and bright? No, because they weren’t.
The reason for the season is because of sin.
The reason for the season is because of pain.
The reason for the season is because of suffering.
The reason for the season is because of _____________.
We forget that we even have Christmas because God sent His one and only son (Jesus) into the word so that He could save us from ourselves, from our sin, from our pain, and from our brokenness.
It is only because of Jesus’s birth that we have hope at all. It is only because of Jesus’s birth that we can even fathom feelings of comfort and joy. Jesus didn’t come to make a show or become a cameo of history. No, He came to give hope to the blind, the lame, to heal the sick in body and in heart, and to destroy the works of Satan.
He came…to give us life.
Perhaps the Christmas that the world presents us ignores our pain, but the Christmas talked about in the Bible does no such thing. In fact, it takes our pain, our suffering, and our despair quite seriously. Amid the joy and hope of the Angel’s announcement, we are reminded that God has seen our pain, heard our cries, and has come to save, redeem, and love us.
Christmas doesn’t guarantee “merry and bright”. However, it does promise that merriness and joy is coming, that it’s breaking through, and that because of Jesus’s birth, we have a taste, a peak, at the glory and hope of what is to come.
We may be down this Christmas, we may be sorrowful, we may be faced with overwhelming grief, we may not want to decorate our tree at all, but in Christ, through his Spirit, we are able to rejoice.
This season I hope you know that you don’t have to pretend to be anything more than you are, even if all you feel is a heart fractured into a million tiny pieces. I’ve had my share of pretending I’m okay when I’m really not, and today I want to show up and let you know that you don’t have stuff the tears down, mumble you are okay, or put ice on red rimmed eyes in order to not bring others down with your grief, and hurt, etc. You are a child of a God who cares, who knows, and who sent His Son for you because of those tears.
He has walked through suffering, He knows, and He is holding you tight and whispering in your ear to look up at the stars just like the shepherds did on the eve of His birth, to hope in a better tomorrow and a future in which we live in eternity with Him forever.
Christmas may not be perfect this year, but thankfully we have a God who knows and understands our hearts and doesn’t want or need us to be anything other than what we are, because He came for that.
He came to heal that.
He came to love that.
He came to die for that.
He came….for you.