This is for everyone who is sad this Christmas.
I don’t know why you’re hurting. Maybe that’s just been the norm for you lately. Maybe you’re not where you’d hoped to be by now. Maybe the weight of this aching world is just too much for you right now. Maybe you’re missing someone for the first time at Christmas. Maybe you lost somebody. Maybe yourself. I don’t know why, but I know you’re out there and you’re in pain.
Christmas has always been a time of pure joy to me. First, childlike wonder. Then, a more solemn, a deeper joy at the birth of my beloved Saviour. This is the first time I’ll spend Christmas in pain. It’s a new experience, but I thank God for it because it has opened new doors.
No holiday has been so clutched at by the world as Christmas has, and sometimes it can be hard to separate the Godly from the carnal. Beloved, this year has shown me that the pressure to be happy and holly and jolly is carnal. We’re not called to be happy. We’re called to be His.
Christ’s birth was not the Coming. It was not the start of all joy or the end of all pain. For Him at least, it was the beginning of the worst pain any man has ever gone through. Did Mary know that in a few short years, she’d watch her Baby die a horrible death? Did the Baby know? Did the Father miss His presence in Heaven then, did He feel sorrow at the trials that lay before His Child? Jesus didn’t come to bring joy. He came to bring the way, the truth and the life. He came to bring, above all, Himself. Jesus: God who saves.
Don’t feel like you have to be happy. The shepherds felt fear before joy. Just do what they did: leave it all and come worship that Baby, the Baby King. The Holy and Everlasting and Almighty God that became a small, dirty, squalling, dependent thing in order to save a whole world of small, dirty things. Come to Him and bring yourself for a gift and you’ll discover that that Baby doesn’t bring joy to the world. He is joy to the world and the only source of it. And sometimes to bring you to the source, He drives you there with a sorrow that nothing else can soothe.
The point is not to be happy. The point is that He’s with us now as always. You don’t have to pretend. Not to me and not to Him and if anyone else makes you feel judged, well, that’s just not their job.
He is not “God you have to pretend for”. He is not “God of the perfect decorations/cookies/meal” or “God of keeping up with the Joneses” or “Jolly God”. He is much more profound, much more demanding, much more dynamic and lasting. He is simply Immanuel: “God with us”.
That’s why He came, after all. Not to make us happy but to make us His. He had always been The Lord My Shepherd and The Lord My Rock and The Lord of Hosts and The Lord Provides. But Christmas, well that changed everything because He drew us closer. He became God With Us.
And no matter how deep your valley, no matter how serious your wounds, this much I can promise now and forever: He is with you.