Christmas Brings Comfort
Wishes of good cheer and a very merry Christmas, twinkling lights and happy songs playing on the radio, gifts to be given and received… the celebration and excitement of the season can all be enjoyable and even heart-warming. It’s all good. But for those who carry a heavy burden of some kind, the season can feel empty and hollow. We smile, we laugh, we celebrate through the numbness.
A few weeks ago someone said to me, “So Christmas will be easier for you this year since it’s not the first one since Dave died, right?” It was meant in kindness and encouragement, but the words hit me hard. I looked at this person, not knowing what to say, but inside I was screaming. “No, it will not be easier! Every day is harder than the day before! Every day I miss him more than the day before!” The truth is, no, this Christmas will not be easier than last year. I wish it were so, but it’s not. In my experience, loss does not dissipate with the passage of time. From the seat where I sit right now, time does not heal.
Christmas can be a confusing and unsettling time for those who are dealing with the difficult side of life. The loss of a loved one, a recent divorce, a disappointing and scary diagnosis, and the list could go on. The brokenness of this world touches us in many ways, even during the holidays. But I see Christmas differently this year! Much deeper than lights and carols and parties and gifts. I have a new perspective of hope and comfort and nearness to Jesus.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Bethlehem, the place where Jesus was born, this amazing point in history that we celebrate at Christmas. I was able to touch the very spot where Jesus came into this world on that holy night so many years ago. God was willing to become human, to enter the suffering and chaos of this world, so that we could share a real and personal relationship with Him. It was a powerful moment of gratefulness that I felt in that moment.
We appropriately celebrate the significance and possibility of salvation and eternity in heaven that Jesus brought with him on that first Christmas night, but this year it’s so much more than that to me. This year, because of my need for deep and embracing comfort, I realize with a whole new sense of revelation to my soul, that the personal relationship Jesus made possible through Christmas is not just about our salvation. It’s not only about eternity in heaven when we die. It’s about our daily living in intimate relationship with Him, which includes comfort. In fact, God’s heart breaks for us when we face the difficult.
In Christmas, God is reaching out to us with true intimacy, a nearness that can’t quite be put into words. Christmas proves God’s strong desire to be with us. With us in our sorrow and suffering. With us in our confusion and hurt. Because of Christmas, there is comfort. Real comfort. Lasting comfort. Comfort deep enough and wide enough to cover all our brokenness. That’s what I felt in Bethlehem, and with that came an incredible gratefulness for God’s unrelenting desire to be with us. He knows me. He knows my pain. He knows my heart. And He is with me. It’s where He wants to be.
God reaches into our pain and sadness with His comfort and peace. It’s real. That’s where I choose to rest this Christmas. That’s where I choose to run this Christmas. In the middle of all the normal celebrating, where at times I may feel lost and alone and numb, I choose to turn towards His face and hide myself in His embrace. I like it there. It’s where I want to live.
How does the message of Christmas rise above the giddiness and frivolity of a season that you may be numb to this year? With the Christ of Comfort reaching out to you, with warmth in His eyes, with a comforting embrace that comes with His promise to never let go, and with a tear ready to spill down His face because His heart feels your pain and sadness. That’s the Christ who draws near to you today. I hope you will turn and draw near to Him.
It’s another good Christmas.
“Comfort! Yes, comfort my people,” says your God. Isaiah 40:1