Christmas: Joy or Pain
November 1, 2018
It’s Christmas Eve. Millions of people are doing the last-minute preparations for the big day—Christmas. The stores are closing early tonight. Thousands are traveling to be with family and friends.
Everywhere you look, it looks like Christmas. The lights, the trees, the gifts.
It sounds like Christmas, too—just go to Walmart. You’ll hear the bells from the Salvation Army—and we can’t forget the Christmas music!
It even tastes like Christmas! The yummy candy and cookies are hard to beat this time of year!
For most of us, we think of the family gatherings and the delicious spread of food. We think about Christmas caroling and gift exchanges. We love Christmas.
But there are many people today who are dreading Christmas. There are more tears than happy smiles, more painful flashbacks than joyful memories.
I think of the parents who are going through their first Christmas without their beloved child; the mom who recently gave her child up for adoption; the children who just buried their parents; the grandparents who haven’t seen their daughter and grandchildren in years; the woman who dreads having to face the brother who took her innocence many years ago; the son who wishes he could remember a time when there wasn’t tension and fighting at his family’s Christmas dinner; the child who is in the hospital with cancer; the widow who would do anything to live one more day with her husband; the homeless man who has nothing and has no one to spend the day with.
For these dear souls, Christmas is hard. Painful.
Sometimes the pain that grips them is greater than the joyful hustle and bustle of this glorious time of year. Behind the smiles you see at church, Walmart, or the Christmas concert is a broken, oozing heart.
Recently I’ve met a few of these people. They look like ordinary people who are caught up with Christmas, just like me—except that when I asked them if they were looking forward to Christmas, there was a long pause.
One woman replied, “What’s the point in putting up a bunch of Christmas lights and décor when Christmas is so painful?”
Another woman answered my question by saying that she goes all out in décor at Christmas time because it helps her to forget the pain of not being able to see her grandchildren and daughter.
No, these were not random strangers I met at Aldi.
These are neighbors and acquaintances. People I know. People I go to church with.
And I was completely blind to their pain.
For several weeks now, I’ve been thinking about how I can be a blessing to the folks who find themselves dreading Christmas. How would Jesus respond?
Maybe He would invite them over to His house for a meal or a snack on Christmas Eve. Maybe He’d “adopt” them as his parents. Maybe He’d send them flowers. Maybe He’d drop some groceries on their doorstep. Maybe He’d slip a card into their mailbox.
I don’t know. But I know He’d do something for them. He wouldn’t just go about His Christmas activities and forget about them.
After all, He knows how it feels to leave everything familiar and come to a sin-cursed earth where He was hated and despised, where His friends and family forsook Him, and where He was hated and mocked. He is acquainted with grief and sorrow. It is not a new thing to Him.
Oh Jesus, please help me to remember You this Christmas season, so that I can remember the hurting souls who find Christmas hard. May they see You through me.
If you’re the dear soul who is dreading Christmas, please know that the baby in the manger, Jesus, cares about your grief and sorrow. He hurts with you. I can’t do something for everyone, but I am praying that God would send someone your way to ease the pain and loneliness this Christmas; and I’m praying that you will experience Jesus in a tangible way.
Have a blessed Christmas!
And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
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