Christmas is a time for giving. It’s a time for carols and hot chocolate, for presents and parties, for white elephant gifts and avoiding the naughty list. It’s a time for cantatas and candlelight services, for building snowmen and making snow angels. It’s a time for taking family photos and watching Christmas movies. It’s a time for cookies and candy canes, for stocking stuffers and Secret Santa. It’s a time to spend with family and friends and give more generously to those less fortunate.
Christmas isn’t a time for sickness, for a child having to watch her two beloved dogs be put to sleep or for a prostate cancer diagnosis. And yet for our family this year, it has been.
Life happens 365 days a year ~ the good, the bad, the scary. Unfortunately, the hard stuff doesn’t take a break, not even at Christmas. While we’re singing, “Peace on earth”, there are people who’ve lost loved ones, their jobs and their health.
So what do you do with that? How do you reconcile the most wonderful time of the year with some of the hardest things you’ve ever had to face?
I think you first need to push past the candy canes and stocking stuffers, the parties and the white elephant gifts and remember the real reason we celebrate Christmas. The greatest gift mankind could ever receive was God coming to earth as a baby, with the sole purpose of sacrificing Himself to take our place and receive our punishment for our sin. You realize that with that tremendous sacrifice, God satisfied our greatest need. And if He would go to such great lengths to satisfy our greatest need, how much more would He take care of our other needs?
When Jesus was born more than 2,000 years ago, not many people noticed. There were magi, or wise men who did notice and journeyed for days to worship the King of Kings. All they had to guide them was the words of Micah the prophet and the spectacular star that shone over the Christ child. Their ancient compass was the Word and the Light.
When we look to the Word and the Light to guide us, then we are also wise. No matter what we’re facing, if we hold onto what God has said in His Word and upon the light He has given us, then like the wise men, we too will be ushered into the Presence of God.
The wise men gave their best to Jesus ~ gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And because of God’s extraordinary love for us, we can not only give Him our best but also our worst. Our sickness and sorrow, a cancer diagnosis and unemployment, our grief and our despair.
This year I’m learning to celebrate Christmas despite my Father’s recent cancer diagnosis. Celebrating is easy when life is good. But when life is challenging, celebrating takes faith. There are days when the heaviness of everything weighs on me. But then God reminds me to give everything to Him, the uncertainty, the stress, the treatment plan, the day to day challenges of living.
He’s also given me an amazing promise no one else could ever give me. He tells me that in all things He works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. (Romans 1:28)
That is a phenomenal promise! So if my Father starts passing blood, if his PSA skyrockets and he gets an infection from the biopsy that throws off his equilibrium and his cognition, I know that God is still working everything together for my Father’s good. He is the only one who can do that.
This could be one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had. How can I say that? Because we are in the perfect position for God to move on my Father’s behalf. Just like the wise men waited in anticipation to see Jesus face to face, we are eagerly waiting for God to show His glory in this situation. And when He does, the only explanation will be God.
If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32