As much as I love Christmas, this year has been a little different in my heart and thoughts. I feel a different kind of urgency in celebrating Christ’s birth in a more tangible way. Perhaps it’s that our daughter is 2.5, and I feel the weight of shepherding her heart toward the true meaning of why we celebrate Christmas that has little to do with a bearded man and reindeer.
But, given the unfathomable and horrific events that have happened this year, I feel it’s more closely related to the heavy heart I feel for so many as they go through this Christmas season without their loved ones for the first time or those who are starting from scratch after losing their entire homes. From those who lost loved ones in Las Vegas to Sutherland Springs, to the those who lost everything in Hurricane Harvey. Their Christmas looks unimaginably different than ours.
There is so much hurt in our world, our communities, and even our next doors that we are often unaware of. Perhaps you have your own pain that you are suffering with right now.
When sin entered the world through the Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), so did evil, turmoil, and hurt. A lot of hurt. The first murder was a short time later (Genesis 4).
But that’s not where the story ends friends! For those of us who believe in Jesus’ death and resurrection our hurt and turmoil that we suffer here on earth is but a blink of an eye in the glorious eternity we will spend in Heaven! Praise Him!
Christmas time, however weighted down in sadness, is still filled with so much hope. Hope of what’s to come. Hope in the fulfilled promises and prophecies that were recorded hundreds of years prior to happening.
You see, Christmas time points us to Easter. Without the birth of Jesus, we wouldn’t have His death and resurrection, and ultimately His defeat of death and sin.
God sent His one and only Son to earth to live among us (as we celebrate at Christmas.) Jesus experienced life as we live it. He faced temptations, felt anger, grief, betrayal, and sadness, BUT never sinned. Before Christ, the Israelites had to sacrifice a specific animal without blemish to atone for their sins. There had to be blood shed in order to cover sin. Jesus, the baby born in a lowly manger would become the perfect Lamb without blemish (because He was sinless) to die on the cross and carry the weight of every sin that had been committed and would be committed until He returns again.
Let that sink in.
At the right time, and in His perfect timing God offered His Son as the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for our sins to once and for all bring redemption and offer grace and mercy.
We celebrate Christmas as the beginning, the beginning of a story that is eternal and joy-filled.
Because of Jesus’ birth we have hope that the pain we feel here on earth is temporary. We have hope that He will return again and we will one day be with Him in Heaven sitting at His feet. There will be no weeping, no pain, no sadness. Only rejoicing and worshiping with Him.
How can we celebrate in the midst of grieving? Because we know our grief is only temporary. We can also take that pain and offer it up to the Lord. He can bear it. He wants us to bring Him our pain and broken hearts.
I love this verse:
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted, and He saves those crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
This is a promise friends, a promise from God. He doesn’t break His promises. He is close, draw near to Him and He will draw near to You. (James 4:8)
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Psalm 107: 13-14
How can we celebrate, while also having empathy for those around us who are grieving? We can do our part to lessen the burden. Whether that’s through giving of our resources through money or time and service, to making eye contact, smiling and showing gratitude to those around us. We can also lend a hand. If someone drops something, pick it up for them. If you see someone with their arms full, open the door or hold it open for them.
Sharing the love of Christ through our actions is sharing the Hope we have in Him. It’s walking as He walked, sacrificially and humbly and with a servant spirit. It’s also grieving with those around us as they are grieving and carrying their burdens alongside them.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
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