The Presence of Christmas
It was ten years ago, but it feels like yesterday. The previous six months were hard. I had transitioned into full-time ministry from my teaching gig. We received a difficult infertility diagnosis squelching our hopes of ever getting pregnant. We endured an adoption fraud involving the FBI. We were weary. Broken.
We spent Thanksgiving that year away from our family. Mostly because everyone was pregnant and I just couldn’t be around them. Christmas came and we had to show up. We weren’t joyful. We weren’t merry. We were grieving. We were hurting. It was hard.
I don’t remember what gifts we got that year. But I remember clinging to Jesus with everything in me. He was all I had.
Sometimes we’re left holding the shattered pieces of dreams in our hands.
And it’s Christmas.
We’re not joyful. We’re not merry. We’re grieving. We’re hurting. It’s hard.
I imagine the first Christmas wasn’t all that filled with joy. Mary’s life was turned upside down. She almost lost her man. Her story was the center of the town’s scandal gossip. I’m sure they couldn’t get enough. I’m sure she felt alone. Weary. I’m sure she wondered how all of this was going to turn out.
She and Joseph had traveled by donkey during the eighth month of her pregnancy landing in a cave where she had to give birth. Not a great cultivating ground for joy and merriment. I would suspect the previous 9 months of her life held a lot of shattered dreams. Plans changed. Hopes gone.
But in the middle of it all, a baby was born.
Emmanuel—God with us.
If Mary knew nothing else, she knew this: God was with her. In the midst of her struggle and pain, among the hardest things, God was present. In the flesh. He came down to rescue and redeem and restore her.
The same is true for us. In the midst of our struggle and pain, among the hardest things—God IS present. He is WITH us. He holds our darkness and shines His light in the midst of it all. Sometimes it's all we've got. But it is enough to carry us through. In the hardest parts, we cling to Jesus and He breathes life.
This Christmas, may the presence of Jesus bring you peace. Even if it’s hard.