This Christmas will be difficult for many people. Not only will we have to deal with COVID restrictions, but many have lost jobs, businesses, homes, have had relationships severed, and, most grievous, have lost loved ones. I have heard many people say—when times are tough—they choose not to celebrate. How can they get into holiday cheer and colorful lights when their world is dark and dreary?
In times of pain, lyrics like “Oh by gosh, by golly,” are not only empty, but they can also be salt in the wound. When every fiber of our being is crying out in grief, sentimentality loses its charm. Charles Spurgeon once said, “When you are in good health, any form of religion may satisfy, but a dying soul wants more than sand to rest upon. You will want the rock of ages.” We can also apply his thought to the celebration of Christmas. When times are good, any triviality will do, but frivolity offers us nothing in times of pain.
Since our society so regularly confuses Christmas with the superficial, it is no wonder many people decide to opt-out when life is hard, but this misses the point of Christmas altogether. The arrival of Jesus into our world is the answer to a world lost in darkness. Christ, God incarnate, entered our sin-riddled world. From his first breath, he was to be known as the Man of Sorrows, and he would endure it all because of his great love for us. We have a Savior who can sympathize with our weakness, and he went to the cross to atone for our sin.
If you have written off Christmas this year, remember that the birth of Christ set in motion the answer to your pain. Think of Mary experiencing the pain of childbirth. Pain in childbirth is a direct result of the curse of sin entering our world. Then consider the child who was born has “come to make his blessings flow, far as the curse is found.” Put succinctly, in pain, she gave birth, but the child was to be the end of her suffering, not only her grief but the grief of all who would place their trust in him.
This Christmas may be different than any other you have ever experienced. Many of the season’s secular add-ons might be revealed as the paltry tin they are, and you might leave much of it behind. However, your pain may be the catalyst that draws you closer to your Savior than ever before; the one who was born on Christmas morning. The superficial may melt away, but you will find the Savior who was born in the manger is close to the brokenhearted. Sin and the pain and grief it brings to our lives is not the reason to avoid Christmas; it is the reason we need it because Christ is the remedy. It might not be a holly jolly Christmas, but a Christmas in a minor key might be much more significant.