After talking with a friend this morning about the weight and pressures that can come with the holiday season, I spent some time in prayer, for myself and so many of my loved ones. Many of us are hurting and dealing with difficult life situations right now, and Christmas isn’t as bright and shiny as we would hope. What exactly is it about Christmas that makes us want to put on a happy face?
Sometimes we have plans of how we envision our Christmas to be. Everyone happy (or at least playing along!). A clean house. Well-behaved children. House smelling deliciously of dinner and sweets, just the right gift that we asked for…everything flowing smoothly with no hiccups.
These are all good things to want, but sometimes…LIFE, y’all. We are moving, we are sick, or someone close to us is sick. We are broken and grieving multiple losses. We are in a tough time, we are struggling with work, or looking for work, wondering how ends will meet. And that doesn’t even mention dealing with interpersonal relationships. 2016 knocked us on butts and we are just struggling with our faith and trying to hold on to hope. We are waiting, wondering if what we waited for will ever come to pass. We are DONE.
As I prayed and sought God’s wisdom, I was reminded of the truth. THE MESS is where Christ comes and meets us. He is Immanuel, Christ with us. He is with us when life is flowing, but we often forget that He is with us when life is falling apart at the seams. He came to us in a barn because there was no room at the Inn, which was probably nicer, cleaner, and if it’s anything like The DoubleTree Hotel, offered fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. But that’s not where he came. He came to us in real life situations to let us know that we are not alone. He put on flesh to show us just how much he loves us, friend.
When the shepherds returned home, their problems, families, and messy dogs (sheep?) were still there. Their circumstances may not have changed, but their hearts had. They were so excited to have met their Savior, their Hope had come! He was The Gift they were waiting for! And because their Hope had come, it gave them the strength to continue on. Just like the wise men and shepherds, God came to change our hearts in the midst of the mess. He is indeed our Joy and Hope in our pleasant times and difficult times. And I praise Him that I don’t have to fake fine with Him, on Christmas Day or any other day. Because we know that God is with us through it all, we can draw on His strength to continue on.
Friend, whatever is happening in your world, be reminded that GOD IS WITH YOU through it all. He has never left you, and He never will. Your joy doesn’t depend on those around you, or in your problems being fixed. Your Hope is in Immanuel. I pray that you will lean into him in the difficult moments of this Christmas weekend. You are loved beyond measure! Be encouraged.