I’m going to be brutally honest: this has not been the happiest of Christmases. It has been chaotic and transitory for our family, and for me, a time of deep grief for some dear friends experiencing a tragic and unexpected loss in their family.
I began writing a text to a friend a few moments ago: “Worst Christmas ever. I got sick. Toddler screamed in tears as she was peeled away from my sick arms while parting ways to go visit Great-Grandma – family Christmas celebration #3 so far, with one more to go, not counting the three church events – WAY too much for a two-year-old and not at all what I wanted for her this year. This is NOT what Christmas is about.”
It’s not the first time I’ve thought that this season either. Two different friends in my life experienced a tragic and early death in their families, and it has hit me hard. I’ve looked at my Christmas tree, this symbol of the coming celebration, with the gifts gathered beneath it, and thought, “how can I celebrate when ones so dear to me are grieving such a great loss?” I have this expectation that Christmas is supposed to be full of joy and anticipation, not sorrow and suffering.
But today, as my toddler screamed in tears like I was the worst mother in the world for making her leave her sick mama behind, I realized: this is EXACTLY what Christmas is about. It’s about the hope of a Savior who makes sense of our sorrows, and a Savior who is familiar with grief. It’s about the hope of a Savior who comes to reunify broken and divided families. It’s about the hope of a Savior who comes to undo the great curse of sin on our world – to undo sickness, and sorrow, and pain, and loss, and grief, and chaos, and brokenness.
The hope of the world has come once as a baby– and yes, it is a time of great celebration because the world waited so long the first time! But He has not finished His work of redemption yet. Though He has great rule over our lives, He is not ruling over this world…yet. He has one more great appearance to make. And this time, the world will not be able to turn their eyes away: “for every knee will bow, and every tongue proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Philippians 2:10). Christmas is about the coming of a Savior and about anticipating His soon return. And what better way to do that then in the midst of chaos and brokenness and grief?
So for all of you who might admit that this hasn’t felt like a very joyous season to you either, I beckon you to look once more at that baby in the manger and embrace your sorrows and chaos with a great hope that this baby became a man who broke the power of sin and death, and has abundant life to offer you – and His rule that is yet to come will cast all these sorrows and sufferings back into the darkness where they will lay forgotten and overshadowed by His amazing love and grace and glory. Put your hope in Him and rest content that the true Day of Great Celebration is still coming.