When Christmas Hurts

Christmas time is here! For me, Christmas is a beautiful time of year to refocus and worship the King of Kings. It does not for one second mean that this time is without turmoil, conflict, frustration and sadness. It’s interesting to me that throughout the Bible, God comes for those who are weak, unqualified and not at all what the world would choose as His representatives. And He does things in ways that they would not have chosen for themselves.

I think that especially around the holidays, we want our lives to look like a Hallmark movie or a beautifully-staged Christmas card. And yet, they rarely do. Some of us are missing loved ones terribly as we grieve their loss. Some are wishing for the end of a year that has been full of turmoil and trouble—waiting for a new start next year and hoping for a better one. And some are dreading the frustration and angst of being with family or friends while experiencing conflict, awkwardness or feeling that a pretense must be maintained.

So, how do we refocus when we are facing this kind of situation or some other hard thing? How do we love others when we feel so empty and dry ourselves as we face another Christmas season that doesn’t seem to carry much meaning with the commercial focus and emphasis on what we can get?

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

We have been adopted through this crazy plan of sending Jesus to earth as a baby to grow to a man to sacrifice Himself for us. And we can now cry out “Abba! Father!” We are not slaves with a mandate to create love, but we are sons (and daughters) who are so filled up with Jesus that He comes spilling over to others. I can’t generate that kind of love, especially not when I feel like it’s an expectation of me. But when I come to Jesus, recognizing that I need His love for any person then I suddenly realize I don’t need to conjure up a feeling for someone.

He does love that person, regardless of how I feel about them in that moment. He does know the hard of grief when we are facing in a special time of year with the gaping hole of a missing loved one. He knows the frustration of having the family not be what it is “supposed to be” and having that be a hard tension to bear. And through all of this, He promises to be all that we need.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21

I have been reading these verses every day for a while because I just can’t get enough of them. They remind me of the incredible love of Christ, the love that I can’t wrap my head around. And they remind me that He is able to do so much more than I could ever imagine or pray or hope. That is the power within us. No wonder we break out into proclaiming glory to Him in this. Wow!

This means that whatever my situation, whether Christmas is dreaded or anticipated with great joy, I am filled up with the fullness of God. And He has everything I need for each circumstance. I don’t have to be afraid or worry about how it’s all going to go. I, instead, get to come back to the beautiful gift of Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby so that He could adopt me out of slavery and restore me to relationship with Abba. And I get to obsess on the great love of God and be strengthened in power through His Spirit.

So, I can rejoice. And have hope. And be joyful even in the face of pain.

Thank you, God, for your incredible gift and your continuing presence within us. Thank you for taking us on as Your kids. Thank you for overwhelming us with your love and for filling us up for whatever comes today and on into the future. We honor You in this reminder of Your incredible sacrifice, glorifying You as our Abba Father. And we look for you in each situation this Christmas, knowing that You are the power within us to get us through and move us deeper with You.

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