I see it in your eyes. Christmas is coming and it’s hard. You’re already thinking, GIRL! It is too early for this dang post! But hey, the stores already have their displays up. It makes you want to hide or run and scream. It makes you bitter. It makes you suddenly feel like you’re on a game show and the giant alarm clock is ticking every where you go. Or it makes you want to find a cave to hibernate in and cry for the winter. Your heart is tight and your body feels even wearier than it did moments ago.
It’s hard every year. I know that. I know that the statistics for death and suicide go up. I know that people hide from Thanksgiving until sometime in the spring. I know that winter is coming and it holds pain and doom for many hurting people. I know that it feels like carrying a bag of bricks around all season long, with every chipper friend, with all the lights and decor, the merry and happy and joy and cheer like punches to the gut.
Maybe you’ve made Christmas into something it is not meant to be. The expectations aren’t met. Or it’s a sad time of year because of lost loved ones. Maybe your marriage fell apart this year and it will be the first Christmas without your full family together. Maybe you’ve gotten bad news on the health front. I know that it feels impossible to muster up any cheer. I know that the entire rest of the year will take everything out of you. I know that every day will be uphill.
I also know that Christmas is magical. It’s mysterious. Whether you believe in its magic and mystery, whether you accept it as the celebration of the birth of a man in Israel 2000+ years ago or not. It still is. It’s still the hope of nations. It’s still the point in time when God put into place a plan that will save us all from ourselves and from all the evil darknesses in the world. Christmas signals the beginning of the end – the end of death and destruction, the end of brokenness and fear, the end of illness, the end of doubt and dismay, the end of hopelessness. Without Christmas’ existence, we who have tasted the goodness of grace have zero hope. Zero. And it’s by clinging to this hope that we overcome. We overcome the sadness and longing that Christmas creates in us and the Spirit of God changes that sadness and longing into something that glimpses the promises that God himself will turn all sadnesses into joy and all longings for good and justice and peace will be fulfilled.
But it’s still Christmas. It’s coming. Prepare now. I think life is half about preparing our hearts. And what are we preparing for?
The coming of the King. The King who promises to be your ALL in ALL. The King who sets you free from the weight of the world. The King who promises to make all things new. You may not see it because of the tears in your eyes. You may not be able to jump up and down with shouts of joy like a child. But in your heart of hearts, if you know the Truth, the Truth will set you free. It will free you from the weight of pain and sadness.
Don’t get me wrong. It will not be 100% easy. The pain of a lifetime will not go away totally and completely just because you want it to. We all know this, don’t we? It will be a constant battle. I’m not saying you have to turn into that friend – we all have one – who is a little TOO sparkly. I’m not saying you have to “fake it ’til you make it.” I’m not saying that the pain isn’t real or that your sadness is small enough to put aside so the rest of us don’t feel too bad.
I’m saying that sadness must point us to Jesus, or that sadness serves no purpose. I’m saying use that sadness and hold it up to the truth and the hope. Compare them. Contrast them. Take that sadness by its shoulders and shake it. Make that sadness account for itself. Don’t ignore it or push it under the rug. Stare it in the face. Tell it that its days are numbered. Scold it for trying to turn your face away from the true meaning of Christmas, from the joy that comes in the mornings, from the hope of the light of the world, the Light who has come for you.
I do get it. I understand when people feel rushed. I understand when the pressure is on to have the biggest and best holiday season ever. Why do we do this? That’s another blog for another day. I just smile. When else does the whole world celebrate the coming of Jesus, whether they admit it or not – even if some vehemently argue against Jesus himself? When else do we look around and see the glory of Light on the world and get to wonder as we wander? It’s bigger than Halloween. More meaningful than thanksgiving – without it we have so much less to be thankful for. Its only equal is its fulfillment on Easter. We who have known Grace, who have tasted its goodness and freedom and hope, should find renewed strength and gladness on the sight of a world getting ready to receive her King. Our Light has come! Come again, sweet Jesus, to finally and fully set us free!
Christmas is coming… Jesus is coming again… “and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing!”