The Sting of Christmas 2017

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Uggghhhh, the blogposts are starting to pour in. So many people are writing about the struggles of the holidays: the frustration, the depression, the hate, the unmet expectations. Unfortunately these feelings ring true for so many, if not all of us. 

The Ghosts of my Christmases Past

We are so broke we can’t even afford a tree, much less presents.

We are sick.

We don’t get along.

We can’t coordinate schedules.

I didn’t get the gift I wanted.

I didn’t get invited to the party.

The whole family won’t be here.

The family members that are here want to be somewhere else. 

My marriage is ripping apart at the seams.

The kids don't like each other and don’t get along.

Who has time for Advent? 

I’m exhausted.

It’s always up to me to make it happen for everyone else.

It’s December 26th and I missed it. I missed it all and I am sad.

 

Each item on this list was a part of certain Christmases in my past. 

 

And to add insult to injury, people, including me, post only the most beautiful pictures of their lives. You never see the husband and wife glaring behind the kids in the Christmas card picture. You won’t find a picture of the recipe that didn’t turn out just right, or the added pounds on the scales. We won’t post the look of disappointment on the kid’s faces when they open a gift that wasn’t what they had hoped for. It won’t be pointed out which members of the family are not in the pictures because of anger or conflict. The extra shot of bourbon isn’t on the eggnog recipe card, but it’s oh so needed just to make it through the day.

For Christmas, many of us want the Norman Rockwell version of the holiday: the smiling faces, the beautiful table, the harmony. But most of us won’t get exactly what we want. 

The Irony

So what should we expect at Christmastime? And how do we find Jesus in the midst of chaos? The answer is to celebrate Him and focus on His birth instead of the imperfection around us. There’s so much brokenness, division, and hurt in the world today that it almost seems impossible to celebrate. But this is exactly why we have Christmas, so we can find peace and have hope in the midst of despair. Hope is believing that, because of Jesus, tomorrow can be better than today. 

True hope can be found in the midst of Christmas brokenness, not in the absence of it. 

Ponder this. The parts of your Norman Rockwell picture that haven’t happened in the past and probably won’t happen by the end of this year are the exact reason we celebrate Christmas. When the messiness of your circumstances hits you in the face and stings like a snowball, be thankful for Christmas. Be thankful that this is not the way it will always be. 

The secret of Christmas lies in HOPE. Jesus came to give us a different kind of hope, not in the tangible things of Earth, but in the intangible gifts that only He can give. I’m reminded of my favorite Christmas song, which says, “Long lay the world in sin and error pining, until He appeared and the soul felt its worth.”

As sure as that one string of lights that won’t work when you unpack it this year, there will be something or someone that doesn’t measure up to your expectations. We are all broken and that is why we need a Savior, a Rescuer. 

In the midst of the brokenness of our Christmas, we celebrate the perfection of our God. 

So, yes! Let’s celebrate!

But remember, we are not celebrating the beautiful tree full of decorations and lovely wrapped presents underneath. We are not celebrating that the shopping is all done and now we can relax. We are not celebrating that the kids are all home and getting along. We aren’t celebrating that our marriage made it another year. We are not celebrating good food and fun parties. 

We are celebrating the healing in sickness, the wholeness in relationships, the wellness in our families, the light in darkness, the peace in turmoil, and most of all, we are celebrating the promise that one day all will be made right in God’s kingdom. I’m holding on to that with everything in me this Christmas. 

For the ultimate Christmas gift that keeps on giving, I thank You, God. As I unwrap the most beautifully packaged gift I have ever received, I find countless joys within that remind me of Your love. I discover a new life and walk in the freedom of Jesus’ perfect record rather than my tainted one. Your gift contains promises of hope and assurance. I reach in and find complete provision for my every need. It fits perfectly. And deep in the bottom of the box I feel one more treasure. It’s the treasure of assurance that one day You will right all wrongs. On the tag of this gift it says, “to be opened fresh everyday”, and when I open the gift moment by moment, I am finding JESUS. May I not pack You away at the end of the season, putting You in a dark box in the attic of my heart, but rather may I re-open Your gift daily to bring 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom Your favor rests.”

"In me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12