The Christmas songs ring their familiar tunes on repeat. The houses are lit up with their magical light displays. Bits of wrapping paper and ribbon clutter under our feet as we finish off the final gifts to be wrapped. We go to parties, eat loads of appetizers and desserts, and wish hosts of people a dozen Merry Christmases.
And yet all this holiday cheer doesn’t automatically “fix” the problems that we wrestle with the rest of the year. Indeed, to those who are suffering, it feels like a cruel façade that they’re forced to put up to pretend like all is well when it’s not.
Is this what Christmas is all about? Jingle bells, stockings, candles, and cozy feelings? Even when we feel hollow and empty inside?
Or is it about the story of a God who knew that jingle bells and stockings couldn’t fix the problems – so He gave Himself instead?
Could there be such a God who cared so much about the human condition that He came to feel it with us? Who entered human flesh to feel our loneliness, our pain, our sorrow, our poverty – so that He could make a way out of it for us?
He didn’t come to join the wealthy, the elite, or the influential. He came to sit with sinners and tax collectors – those considered dirty and outcast by polite society.
He came to wrap infinite arms of grace around souls who had given up hope. He came to give rest to bones weary of fighting and losing. He came to do what we couldn’t – pay the penalty for our sin so that we could be forever right with God.
There is hope in His humble beginnings on earth in that dirty stable. For if God Himself was willing to enter into the lowliest of places, then He certainly cares about our lowliest conditions.
He who experienced poverty extends arms of love to the poor.
He who felt the sting of rejection weeps with those who are rejected.
He who was loneliest in the darkest hour of the cross draws our lonely hearts to Him.
He who underwent the most brutal torture and death for our sake knows the hurt of human diseases and comforts us in our pain and distress.
From the moment His infant lungs filled with earthly air, He chose to take on our sorrows, our burdens, and our hurts because He wanted us to know that He is God with us.
Not God watching from afar with sympathy. But God with us, experiencing our poverty alongside of us.
He grew up in obscurity with earthly parents who had humble backgrounds. He was a small-town boy who faithfully learned His earthly father’s trade until the time came to do His heavenly Father’s mission. He walked alongside fishermen, talked to adulteresses, and touched the sick. He did what others dared not do, because He had the answer that no one else had.
He was the Light of the World come to dispel the darkness that had held people in captivity for so long. He was the Bread of Life that gave life to those starving in the back streets for too many years. He was the Living Water that drenched parched souls with hope they had stopped daring to dream of.
And He is still all of those things today, two thousand and twenty years later because He’s never stopped entering our poverty with us.
So if we’re sitting by Christmas trees this year, longing for so much more than the gifts underneath –
A child wishing his daddy was there instead of in a jail cell,
A mother wishing that her babies were with her instead of in heaven,
A couple wishing for a pregnancy that won’t come,
A child wishing her mama hadn’t left their family,
A single person wishing for that elusive husband or wife,
A mama wishing her wayward child would come home,
An elderly husband wishing he wasn’t watching his wife’s life slowly ebb away,
— we must know that God hasn’t left us alone in our pain. He sent His Son to come straight into the middle of it – straight into that manger filled with hay, so that He could grow up and go straight to the Cross filled with bloody nails and thorns.
He is our forever hope. The hope that doesn’t end when all the Christmas decorations are packed away and the carols die down. The hope that continues on into the next year, the next month, the next day, the next hour. The hope that is always there, even when we can’t see it through our tears.
He is with us. He is for us. He is our Emmanuel – the promise of eternal years.