With Christmas movies playing in the background, presents under the tree, and the smell of Christmas in the air, even blessed families have a sense of something missing. There are others, however, where Christmas is anything but cheerful. Not they don’t like the meaning of Christmas, but that it brings a solemn sadness that is seldom felt other times of the year. Loneliness and depression fills the stockings and even the busyness of of the season can’t even numb the pain.
The Joy of Christmas
Culture will tell you that joy is the word of choice to describe the holiday season. Even the non-religious groups believe it’s the right marketing buzzword to get consumers to “buy” into the season. I would submit that there’s even a better word – perfect. Yes, I said perfect.
The Pain of Christmas
It’s perfect because there’s pain. From the putting up of Christmas lights to finding the perfect gift for a family member, our efforts to create the perfect Christmas atmosphere ALWAYS falls short. We can get the smells right, the gifts right, and even the schedule right, but in the end, something just doesn’t feel right. There’s a nostalgic buildup leading to Christmas Day that leaves us feeling unfulfilled on Christmas morning.
The Chaos of Christmas
The Christmas story that we grew up hearing was full of pain. In the small town of Bethlehem, in the least likely of circumstances, Jesus came into our messed-up world. The perfect Christmas was when Jesus came down to our imperfect world. He came through an unplanned pregnancy. He came through the unlikeliness of people. In the family lineage of Jesus found in the gospels, you see that the writers didn’t leave out those family members that were less than reputable. You’ll find Tamar – a woman who played the part of a prostitute. Rahab – yet another prostitute – is part of Jesus’ lineage. Ruth, a Moabite woman, was highly looked down upon culturally. You’ll then find Bathsheba, Kind David’s adulteress who is listed by description only.
Historically, when family lineages were written, only the strongest of ancestors were listed. Non-important (or disgraced family members) were skipped over when lineages were written. No so with Christ. There’s a reason why nothing was spared in his story. He could have easily came as a man and could have still been our Savior. But He wanted to come down into our pain. He came as a baby to experience all of life – the good, the bad, the ugly.
At some point in His life, He grew up without an earthly father. He was mocked in his own hometown. He was criticized and rebuked. He was beaten and the crucified. Worst of all, on the cross, He felt abandoned by God.
Jesus is referenced many times throughout scripture by many names – King of Kings, Prince of Peace, the Word, Christ, Lord, etc. There’s only one name that we hear around Christmas time – Immanuel which means “God with us.” Jesus never wanted us to feel alone like He did on that cross. I’m thankful that pain, sadness, and depression are still a part of Christmas. It is a stark reminder of why Jesus came in the first place.