A Greeting-Card Christmas Scene
The other day I drove through upstate New York after a snowfall. If you've never done this, you're missing out. Picture this winter scene: rolling hills with snow-heavy evergreens; crisp, white farm fields outlined with old, brown wooden fences; picturesque farmhouses that remind of an era gone by.
At one point the scene before us—an old, red barn nestled between trees and surrounded by sparkling white—was so idyllic that I thought to myself, It's like I'm driving through a Christmas greeting card.
Then we rounded the next bend, and on the right of the highway lay a deer, dead in the snow. Perched atop its quiet frame were two slick, shiny black birds tearing flesh, feasting on death. It was as startling as it was sad.
The idyllic greeting card just isn't real life. It's only a pretty card.
Holidays in the Real World
In real life, we live in a world where we see beauty and grace, but also brokenness and death. As Christians, we know the joy of the Beautiful One, and yet we still know the sorrow of brokenness.
If this Christmas season feels dark, keep craning to glimpse Light.
For many that I love, the holidays can be a time of year when the pain of broken relationships, the sorrow of loneliness, or the heartache of unmet dreams is not dulled by the cheerful festivities but instead made all the more acute. Even as I write these words, I'm picturing faces of people I love, and my heart is aching for them. And maybe you're reading this and, though I don't know you personally, you get exactly what I'm writing about.
Maybe it seems like others are merry and bright, while the holidays seem like a month-long reminder of all that's gone wrong for you. If this Christmas season feels dark, keep craning to glimpse Light. The light might flicker dim or seem far off, but you look to a Savior who pierced darkness with light.
Keep Looking to the Light
Why should you keep looking to Him?
- You look to a Savior who understands you.
Many of us, in our right desire to affirm the deity of the baby Jesus, have somehow lost sight of His humanity. Fully God but fully human, too. The eternal Word became flesh through a messy process marred by the Fall. The incarnation wasn't an idyllic greeting card; the incarnation was bloody, painful childbirth. From his birth till death, Christ's humanity was marked by human pain and suffering. He never sinned, but He knew sorrow. He never gave in, but He knew temptation.
A fully human Jesus knew the heartbreak of rejection and betrayal. When your heart is heavy with sadness, and you wonder how you'll make it through, you can stretch your hands to a Savior who understands. In your sadness and loneliness, you're not alone. He understands you. He's with you. And now He stands at the right hand of His Father, praying for you.
- You look to a Savior whom you're to imitate.
Perhaps you've detected a pattern in your life where, when times are tough, you tend to focus inward on your struggles, on your darkness, on yourself. But something oppressive can happen when you continually and introspectively look within—the darkness becomes thicker. By contrast, when you intentionally look up and look around in hard times, searching your world for others who are struggling and could use love and compassion, it's almost like the darkness loses power in some small way. There are always—always!—other people in your circle who are in a season of sorrow. Have you found them? Have you ministered to them? Have you loved them? Follow the example of your Savior, and look for ways you can bring light and life to those around you.
- You look to a Savior who is coming again.
In the beginning God spoke light into existence. And God said,"Let there be light," and there was light. Then two thousand years ago, God sent His Son into the world and pierced the darkness with light. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And on a real day in the future, the Son will return to gather His people and to remake this world. On that day, the darkness will be no more. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. But before that day comes, we still stumble through shadows and get lost in dark valleys; we still know the pain of sin and the sorrow of death. Christ came the first time to die for His people. Christ is coming the second time to live with His people forever. And when He comes again, our darkness will be perfectly overcome by light.
Have can you draw strength from these truths about your Savior this Christmas?