This Christmas I have been thinking a lot about those who are hurting, whether because of singleness, joblessness, health concerns, loneliness, lost loved ones, or infertility/childlessness. I think many times those who are hurting feel that Christmas is somehow not for them and many find themselves feeling sad or depressed during this season. Below is an exert from a devotional email I received from Sarah's Laughter (a ministry for couples dealing with infertility or baby loss). I have read it several times this Christmas. For me, it has been a beautiful reminder of what this season is truly about.
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
...the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight…Hopelessness. Darkness. Shattered with the birth of this tiny Savior. Fear and hope collide in a cataclysmic explosion of joy! Every anxiety humanity will ever face is answered in the cry of this newborn King. That night in Bethlehem, love was so strong, so overwhelming that God wrapped Himself in human flesh and became God, Emmanuel, God with us. A love so powerful that God would not stay removed from us anymore. He came and involved Himself in our lives, in our hurts, in our fears. Because of the birth of Jesus Christ, fear lost its stronghold in our hearts. Fear is overwhelmed in the presence of God Almighty. Emmanuel is with us. We have been given hope!
I think many of us envision Christmas being about picture perfect families having picture perfect celebrations. For those facing circumstances that prevent them from living up to this, it often feels like Christmas is not for them. It seems to me that as a result of the way Christmas is often celebrated, it shines a spotlight on whatever hurt a person is carrying around.
But Christmas really isn't about all the food, shopping, and presents. Even though family celebrations are wonderful, it is important to remember that Christmas really isn't even about the time spent with family. It is about "love so amazing, so divine" that the Lord became Emmanuel, "God with us." And He who took on flesh says to us,
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Christmas is also for those who are weary and heavy laden, it is for those with unfulfilled dreams and unmet hopes, it is for those whose futures are filled with uncertainty, and it is for those who need to know the power of "God with us" to overcome the hurt and pain of this world.
May God, Emmanuel, give you His joy, peace, and hope this Christmas.
Merry Christmas to all!