If you’re feeling down this Christmas then you’ve come to the right place. This blog post is not about how you can ‘fix’ your Christmas season, though I do hope you find a bit of joy hidden in it’s depth. Instead, I want to take a look at one of aspect of the Christmas story from a very different point of view.
There is such a thing as a joyful Christmas and there is such a thing as a sad Christmas. In this season we load ourselves with feel good movies and cliché phrases bound to turn the most Scroogeist of hearts around. I currently know of no Christmas movie that ends on a bad note.
But the Christmas story ended on a bad note for many families in Matthew 2. The messiah had arrived. The child king who could bring joy and salvation was born, but the vial Herod sought to topple that throne. Hearing of Jesus and failing to find his precise location, Herod decided to do the unthinkable and ordered the death of all male children two and under.
The women of Bethlehem did not have joy that Christmas. The joyous occasion of Christ’s coming brought great joy, but also immense pain. There was a carol sung that day, one of lament, one of a woman weeping for her child.
“A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”Matthew 2:18
Maybe your Christmas is shrouded in gloom this year. Maybe you’re dealing with heart pounding pain, or grieving the loss of someone dear. Maybe you long for things that can’t be wrapped. Maybe you’ve lost your job, your family is broken, perhaps you are ill or even separated from your loved ones. Perhaps social distancing has ruined your festive plans. Maybe the last thing you want to do this Christmas is sing joyous songs of praise. Maybe the holidays seem a bit dreary this year?
If that is you, do not be ashamed. God listens to laments just as much as he does carols. But I want to leave you with a very big shred of hope.
The women of Bethlehem were not the only ones who grieved. Jesus was born in a dirty manger, his birth was miraculous but surely Mary and Joseph’s neighbors must have raised a few eyebrows. They were driven away to Egypt and at some point Jesus’ father probably died. When God became flesh he put himself right in the middle of our pain. The eternal God made friends with those headed for the grave, he touched and healed the sick, his words held power yet he was constantly mocked. Lastly, and most horrible of all, he was nailed to a cross. Jesus died.
Merry Christmas? Good Friday? Happy Easter? That doesn’t sound very cheerful to me. But realize this, you are not the only one grieving. There is one greater than you, God himself who came down to earth faced a pain and evil far worse than we could ever imagined. On that Cross, Jesus died, bearing God’s justice in our place, so that we can be forgiven. And then, of course, he rose again from the grave, promising all who put their trust in him eternal life.
There is a place in Bethlehem to weep, but there is also a place to rejoice. If your Christmas isn’t as bright as you’d like, I hope you can still find joy in the savior who relates to your pain, who has forgiven you, and has began nailing the coffin of pain and death tightly shut. Come to him, whether bleak or merry, and love the overcomer of sin and death.
Jesus still reigns,