If you’re one of those people for whom it takes everything you’ve got to not hate this season’s guts, I understand.
When I was seventeen, life and Satan hit right where it most often hurts this time of year: family. After that year, we would never again celebrate the holidays as a family. The head count is always one short now.
Some don’t even get the first seventeen years. Others got fifty, yet are now going through their first Christmas without, and finding it just as shattering. It’s difficult to keep our seasonal joy from being diminished by those losses.
Have you ever noticed how vulnerable Christmas is? As inevitable as its arrival is every year, it doesn’t actually offer everyone refuge. For some, it’s the reverse – a reminder of what they don’t have. As long as Christmas is about perishable things, it will be perishable itself.
It’s a good thing that the true Christmas has something to say about those very losses, then.
Imagine if the manger pointed to nothing but another Jewish prophet standing around on hillsides and boats, telling stories and handing out advice. Awfully anticlimatic, don’t you think? Not much worth celebrating there.
But the manger points to much more. It points to the cross that will triumph over the very things that shatter us today. It was the birth of the Conqueror of death and loss, who will return on a white horse to make all things new.
If we make a soft-focus Hallmark family mentality the central purpose of Christmas, we leave it vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. Though God is powerful and good, he has not promised to always protect even that precious jewel in this life.
But if we make hope the central purpose of Christmas – the hope of redemption – then the season becomes as unshakeable as every other promise of Christ.
Christmas isn’t a family reunion, as wonderful as that is. It’s the promise of greater reunions down the road, the reversal of all the theft and death and destruction the enemy has wreaked upon us. It looms large over the damages looming over us. The properly interpreted Christmas heralds victory over its own oppressors.
This is why Christmas is bigger than our opinion of it. It’s why we can truly celebrate: its promise never lay in the present, but in the future. It may be difficult to find joy now. But perhaps the cure to finding that joy, is delving ever deeper in.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!