When you have experienced tragedy or loss, holidays can be a trigger for those memories. It doesn’t help that everyone else around you seems to be celebrating and so happy . Even at church the message can seem to be: “Why aren’t you happy? It’s Jesus’ birthday!” Is that really what God thinks? Is it ok to be sad at Christmas?
God meets us right where we are. He loves us and already knows everything about us.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”Matthew 10:28-31 (NIV)
Christmas is not about being happy. It is not about rushing around, gift giving, parties, celebrations, music, or even church. When it comes down to it, Christmas is really about the birth of a Child who was more than He seemed. Boys killing time with the sheep were the first to hear why this night was different than any other in their monotonous routine:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”Luke 2:8-14 (NIV)
What does "Messiah" mean?
The name “Messiah” held special meaning. This was the Savior, the Promised One, the One God’s people had looked for and hoped for, waiting and looking since He’d been prophesied long ago. Many things had been said about Him, but one especially speaks to the sad and hurting this Christmas.
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”Isaiah 42:1-4 (NIV)
The Hope of Christmas
Jesus is the hope of Christmas. Jesus, that little baby, born Christmas night, fulfilled so many prophecies when He was born. He fulfilled even more throughout His life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The hope of Christmas is that a Savior was born—God in human flesh. This Messiah came and lived as a man.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
That is the hope of Christmas. What we do with it is up to us.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”John 1:12 (NIV)
Jesus didn’t come at Christmas with great public fanfare. That will happen when He comes back to judge the living and the dead (Revelation 19:11-16; 20:11-15). The celebration that means the most to Him is quite different.
“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”Luke 15:8-10 (NIV)
Are you searching for hope this Christmas?
“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”Isaiah 40:30-31 (NIV)
NOTE: This post originally appeared Dec. 21, 2013, on Nancy Ruth's old (now defunct) blog.