One November a friend of mine almost lost her child. By Christmas the crisis was past, but they still were not sure of the long-term implications. She e-mailed me in mid-December, during the season which, before this, had always been her favorite:
Surprisingly, I'm finding Christmas hard. A little bit I resent all the hoopla; sometimes I want to shout: Don't you know my baby could have died?!
At the same time I'm very grateful she's alive and very aware that she might not have been. So you'd think I'd be really, really happy! In spiritual terms, Christmas is not very meaningful to me this year one way or the other. I feel a bit like God and I are on a journey together, seeing and doing a lot, but certainly not staying anywhere for any length of time.
If you are bearing a difficult load, it can weigh even heavier as you look around at all the holiday excitement. It may seem that everyone is happy, except you.
Maybe you wonder how you can celebrate when you feel so numb. May I invite you to look over my shoulder at the letter I sent my friend? I pray it might be an encouragement to you.
It's not at all surprising that Christmas is hard for you this year. The reason for Christmas is the same as it ever was, and nothing is more essential to our lives than the incarnation.
What's different for you, I expect, is that the traditions we wrap around Dec. 25 to make it different from other days, those traditions and activities are as nothing to you this year. In fact, the thought of them probably weighs like a lump of lead in your belly. So what!
Trees are nothing. Feasts are nothing. Lights are nothing. Music is nothing.
Only Christ matters. He is the only reason that you can be on any sort of journey with God, that you can have anything at all to do with God.
Only Jesus matters. Hold on to that. One time I told someone in hard times, "Just hang in there." But she corrected me, "I'm not just hanging in there. I'm trying to hang on to Jesus."
So please, just keep hanging on to Jesus.
Sometimes, when things are going well, we might too easily forget that we have only one sure, immovable, dependable strength: Jesus, who was a baby once, and is always and forever God. That is what holds us and keeps us, whether or not we can carry out our traditions.
May our decorations, gifts, and festivities—or lack of them—never block our view of Him, but always point us toward Him.