Christmas for the Hopeless

Christmas is a really happy time. It’s all about family, friends and fun.  But for so many this is far from reality.  Christmas tends to be a time when we are reminded of the tensions that exist in our lives.  It may be family tensions and disputes, broken relationships, ill-health – the list could go on and on.  For me personally, each Christmas is a reminder of a brother who has cut himself off from the rest of the family.  And so Christmas is supposed to be a season of hope but my situation tells me there is nothing I can do to bring about a change.

This year it has been especially amplified.  About this time last year friend who had been influential in my Christian life as a teenager had died.  In truth, I had only had a handful of conversations with him over the past half dozen years but I still felt the loss.  Here was someone who was magnetic and impossible not to like.  Someone who truly exemplified what it meant to walk with Jesus through daily life with a real sense of joy.  Here was someone whose life had been unjustly cut short because of illness, leaving behind a grieving family.  I feel for his family this Christmas and the deep sense of loss they must experience.

There is no platitude that can ever suffice.  No Christmas card message will ever diminish the sense of brokenness so many experience during the Christmas season.  It is pointless to try.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t see beyond our situation or truly experience the wonderful message Christmas brings us.

The advent season is all about waiting for Jesus to come.  Jesus came in broken times.  There was political upheaval.  Social unrest.  Religious corruptibility.  God had not even spoken for 400 years.  It was a time when everything seemed hopeless – like God had forgotten or turned his back on his people.  Yet it was into this situation that Jesus entered the world.  Jesus entered amidst scandal and a lack of dignity. When it was impossible for anyone to bring about change, Jesus was born.  And he brought change.  He brought a peace between God and humanity.  Jesus brought restoration to broken relationships with God.  Jesus offers hope instead of hopelessness.

Life is not so different for many people.  I mentioned my brother’s absence and the death of someone I admired.  Previously I’ve written about my struggles with depression.  I have a sense of brokenness.  And there isn’t anything I can do to change it.  I don’t think I’m the only one who experiences this.

And so this Christmas I find myself waiting for Jesus to come.  No, it’s more like longing for him to come.  The apostle John writes of a day when Jesus would come again – a day when he would right all wrongs, when there would be no more sorrow, sickness or death.  I need this day to come for my broken world because all is not how it should be. I wait for this day because I need it to come.

But I find that this Christmas waiting gives me hope.  I can endure brokenness because of Christmas.  I can have hope because it was in days like this that Jesus was born.  It was days like this that Jesus first began his work of restoration.  If he did it once then he will again.

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