The Hope of Christmas

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Believe it or not, we are approaching the end of another year. It seems to me that the years come and go just a little faster the longer I live. With Christmas, right around the corner, perhaps you like me are getting excited for all the things that go along with Christmas Day. Perhaps you are looking forward to the time you will be able to spend with family and friends. I imagine you have a list of movies you watch each year. No doubt you have started listening to more Christmas music (In my mind this is a year-long activity). Aside from the freezing cold weather that always accompanies Christmas here in Des Moines, it really is an excellent time of year.

But I am also aware that many times things fight for our attention and add stress to a time of year that should be nothing but great to enjoy. Maybe it’s conflict within a relationship. Perhaps as you look at the plight of our nation you find yourself less than satisfied with the state of affairs. Or, it could be that you are in a dark place in life and feel abandoned. It would be ignorant to deny that each of these are real struggles and add an incredible weight to a season that should be a joy to celebrate.

Mere platitudes or pithy sayings are not sufficient to heal the deep hurt that you may be experiencing right now. Even so let me remind you that on that very first Christmas in Bethlehem Christ was born in the middle of what some would call relationship scandal. The very reason Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem was to be taxed. The political scene during their time was anything but preferable, and the Jews had lived 400 years feeling abandoned wondering if the Messiah would come. It is into this context that the Savior of the world was born. With all the busyness and commercialism of Christmas, it can be easy to forget that Christ was born into a rather dark situation. But, isn’t that the reason why He came; to offer hope and light to a very dark situation? Jesus offers more than mere platitudes. He offers himself.

“This is where the Christian message stands tall above any other teaching on pain and suffering and goes beyond any other answers to our problem. The intellectual answers are important. But intellect alone cannot help us navigate the minefield of pain and suffering. Other worldviews also offer intellectual answers. But Christianity alone offers a person.”[1]

So the next time you feel overwhelmed this Christmas season by the very real struggles of life remember this. Christ was born into a dark situation to provide hope and salvation to all who believe. Jesus offers more than trite sayings or religious ritualism for these could never truly meet our deepest need or heal our greatest hurt. Rather Jesus offers himself; Emmanuel God with us! He willingly entered into our suffering, and on the very first Christmas it was the cry of a baby that announced to a silent world, “True hope has been born!” This is the reason we celebrate Christmas.

 


[1] Why Suffering?: Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, pp. 30.