The pumpkin in the middle of our dinner table has been replaced with Advent candles. A well-lit tree takes up part of our living room and the Amazon delivery guy is a frequent visitor. We have officially entered the Christmas season.
A Different Year
Every year we are told this is “the most wonderful time of the year.” Typically, I agree. I love Christmas and the whole Advent season leading up to it. However, this year feels different. We’ve experienced the death of two dearly beloved family members, a global pandemic, a heated election, and other ongoing issues. Summer has given way to a cold, dark winter that has my soul shivering. Needless to say, it almost feels fake to have Christmas cheer.
How can we celebrate hope when things seem hopeless? How can we put on Christmas smiles when our hearts are frowning? How can we enjoy the brightness of Christmas in the midst of such darkness?
Amid such difficulty, it can be tempting, especially this time of year, to slap on a superficial smile and tell myself that I have to be happy because, after all, it’s Christmas. I can’t be down in a season known for hope, joy, and cheer. But, let us refrain from giving shallow responses to deep concerns. Advent is not about pretending problems don’t exist so we can all appear happy. It’s something truer, something deeper.
Where people are well, there is no need for a physician. If humanity could, through sheer willpower, make themselves complete, whole and happy, there would be no need for a nativity. If the world were already bright, we would not yearn for the Light of the World.
It was, however, in the midst of darkness, death, and hopelessness that light broke through. It was always winter and never Christmas when Christ came on the scene. Thus, Advent isn’t something to celebrate only during encouraging, memorable years, no it’s something we need especially in the midst of difficulty and chaos.
Persevering in Hope
The deeper reality of Christ’s conquering life, death and Resurrection provides a hope that transcends the worst of circumstances, however it doesn’t take away temporary pain and difficulty. The fact that Christ has defeated death doesn’t take away from the sting felt by the death of a loved one. The promise that Christ will ultimately undo all wrongs doesn’t mean there isn’t hurt when someone sins against us. Knowing that God will one day dress his bride with radiant splendor doesn’t mean that we won’t be hurt by believers here and now. The coming reversal of all sickness doesn’t take away from the reality that we face serious illness in this life.
However, even in these difficult realities, there is hope. Even in the darkest times there is a glimmer of light foreshadowing the floodgate of bright glory that will one day be revealed. Such hope helps us persevere. Such hope transcends circumstances. Such hope cannot be lost or taken away by any person or earthly power. And that, fellow believer, is worth celebrating.
Long lay the world, in sin and error pining
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worthA thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.