Ready or not, Christmastime is here. And it comes, with all its carols and family traditions, commanding us to be merry and full of good cheer.
However, if you’re like me and countless others, this time of the year can be hard. For some, this season will be filled with more grief than joy because this will be the first Christmas without a precious loved one. For others, it will be hard to join in on the merriment because when they reflect on this past year, all they see is suffering.
None of us have to think too long before our minds are bombarded with the memories of the senseless shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas; the devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma; and the disturbing white supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Durham, and other places across the country. Life in this world is tough.
However, in times like these, God’s grace toward us invites us to also remember the day that hope entered into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. Here is one meditation, one hope and one action that you can make your own as you seek to have an authentic Christmas.
One meditation: The Lord has come!
Many have come to understand the phrase “Joy to the World” as a command to be joyful. However, this phrase is not a command, but rather a proclamation that great joy has entered into our world through our Lord and Savior, Jesus (Luke 2:9-14). In the midst of suffering, may we reflect on and proclaim to ourselves the good news that brings about great joy in the hearts of God’s people.
However, in times like these, God’s grace toward us invites us to also remember the day that hope entered into our world in the person of Jesus Christ.
Consider meditating on and/or memorizing Psalm 103 to cultivate gospel-inspired joy.
One hope: He will come again!
When times were tough, my grandmother would sing, “Afterwhile, it will all be over / After while, the sun will shine. / After while, dark clouds will pass over / And we will shout Hallelujah after while.” Beloved, after while our King will return. This is our one true hope for navigating suffering in this world. The One who has come will soon come again.
Songs have a way of embedding the hopeful truths of God’s Word into our hearts. Consider a song that you can make your own to cultivate this hope in your heart.
One action: Serve others as Christ served us!
Just as Christ entered into our suffering, we have the opportunity to enter into the suffering of others. Many churches will provide their congregants with opportunities to be a blessing to the community through toy and clothing drives. Consider going a step further by entering into the suffering of a person that you know.
Identify someone in your community or workplace that you know is suffering and is without God and without hope. Find a practical way that you can serve them in their suffering, and be open to the possibility of serving them beyond the Christmas season.