But, this wonderful, magical, beautiful season, also magnifies what wounds us. We feel the gap of those relationships that just aren't what they should be (or could be) a little more acutely. Our unanswered prayers ring just a little loudly in our ears. The empty chair at our table reminds us that someone that we love won't make Christmas memories with us anymore. Regrets seem more like failures that we just can't overcome. The sting of betrayal is like a tumor sitting in the middle of your chest. You know the pain you feel - what you can't do, what you wish you could do, how you would change your situation if you could. Life hurts and as much as we love this season, let's be honest, hurt is just more..........hurtful.
But hurt is also why HE came.
Yes, He came to save us from our sins. Without that tiny babe who made a way to the cross, we'd all be just miserable old fools. I don't want to in any way detract from what our Father did when He sent His only son to abolish our sin and open up the door to our heavenly home. Praise God for that!
But, Jesus also came to give us hope. Hope for our future. Hope that what breaks us will be healed. All this is a result of sin. God made a perfect world where sin, sorrow, and sickness had never entered in. When Adam and Even sinned, they opened the door for all of that to enter in. Very often, we choose the very thing that destroys us. Sometimes, others choose for us and their own sin and decisions are the source of our sorrow. Oh, my friend, know that I understand your tears, your longings, your hopes for what could be and what we want to be. The best thing that I can tell you is our Jesus restores, and heals, and makes all things new. Isn't that the best news that you can think of?
Tonight at the Christmas Eve service, we sang "It Came Upon A Midnight Clear." Now I've sung that song a million times in my 34 years and it's never particularly been one of my favorite Christmas hymns. But, tonight I really listened to the words and the words to the third verse captured my soul for all those who are hurting, hoping for a different kind of Christmas, and yet will be disappointed by the reality of what is. Listen:
O ye, beneath life's crushing load
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing;
O rest beside the weary road
and hear the angels sing.
Sometimes life is crushing and we can't stand beneath the weight of it. Some days we barely have the strength to put one foot in front of the other, much less carry our burdensome loads one more step. But glad and golden hours are coming! It may take longer that we want, but they are coming.
You see that baby in the manger, was hope, and redemption, and grace, and peace. He was. But, on the night of his birth, he was just a baby, too. He was a scrawny little newborn who needed his mama to nurse him and swaddling clothes to keep him warm. In so many ways, he was just like hundreds of other Bethlehem babies born that night. It would be thirty years before he would heal anyone or teach the multitudes about how to live. It would be 33 years before His finished work on the cross would show make a way back to heaven.
Hope and healing had come that night, but that hope would not be realized in that moment. Sometimes hope has to wait. Sometimes healing takes time. But you can rest assured, o weary soul, that your answer comes "swiftly on the wing."
Take a moment today and rest from your load. Better yet, give the load to Jesus. He said, "Take my yoke upon you, let me teach you, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:29-30)."
The baby came helpless and frail, born to the poorest, and without any applause. But, he's not a baby anymore. He's a loving, powerful, amazing God who has come to bring hope and healing to every part of your aching soul.
So, celebrate today. Make memories. Smile and laugh with the ones who are near. Your brokenness is whole and your heart is healed. Just you wait in joyful anticipation for that miracle baby to make all things new.