As I write this post five days before Christmas Day, I am reminded that we fall into two broad categories as we draw close to the holiday.
In the first are those who are excited and looking forward to celebrations with family and friends. Gifts will be given, good food will be enjoyed. Laughter, smiles, and hugs will be in abundance.
The second group comprises those for whom this season serves as a reminder of loss, a time for wishing that things are other than they are. For these, Christmas becomes a season to endure rather than a season of celebration.
The need to endure could be through the loss of a loved one through death. It could be through the breakup of a relationship. It could be through a forced separation due to distance or illness. It could be simply that a new phase of life has been entered and Christmas will be different and uncomfortable this year.
For those in the first group, I wish for you that the Christmas season is all that you hope and expect it to be. May your days indeed be merry and bright.
For those in the second group, I offer the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”Matthew 5:4, CSB
Our mourning points us to our need for God. That baby in the manger grew up to become the means of putting us in right relationship with God who offers ultimate comfort.
At Christmas, we celebrate Emmanuel, God with us, believing that Jesus came as both God and Man to reconcile us to God. The physical healing he offered while he walked this planet is intended to point us to the spiritual and emotional healing that he brings to us now.
Yet, we struggle with the brokenness inside us and around us, and this struggle feels stronger and more difficult during a holiday season when it seems that everyone else is having a great time.
As I read this morning in Matthew, Jesus also said:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:28–30, CSB
There is no magic here; there is no simple prayer that takes away the pain of loss, separation, or disappointment. But Jesus offers himself to us as the source of rest for our souls. The author of Hebrews reminds us:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.”Hebrews 4:15–16
Jesus understands loss. He was abandoned by family and friends.
Jesus understands mistreatment. He was punished for a crime he did not commit.
Jesus understands separation. From the cross he experienced separation from his father as he bore our sin.
So, for those who are struggling, let us look in the manger to the one, the only one, who can give us true rest for our souls.
This Christmas, may we look beyond the normal holiday stuff to see how the baby in a manger has caused the light of eternity to break into the darkness to give us hope in the midst of our current struggle.
If you are encouraged by this post or would like to make a comment, please use the comment form below to offer your feedback. If you are reading this in an email and would like to comment, you can reply to the email or click on the “Read in browser” link below to go to the web page where you can enter a comment. I enjoy hearing from you.