Truth be told, this year I don't feel altogether 'christmassy'. The week preceding Christmas was laden with happenings that brought much discouragement and disappointment. I questioned why. Why of all times do I feel 'unchristmassy' on Christmas week? It could at least have been a week before or after right? Coupled with the fact that some of those closer to me are not around this year to celebrate Christmas with me (I'm quite a home-y person), it led to one of those really low moments of 2016.
Why God? Why now?
I had to drag myself to go for Bible study, and all the customary Christmas Eve and day events. The past week was tough and I did not really "feel" it. But through this 'unchristmassy' lens, somehow my eyes were opened to see 'the other side of Christmas'.
Through Sunday's service and a Christmas thanksgiving gathering, I was guided twice to read Matthew 2. Matthew 2 recounts the birth of Jesus, the wise men's journey to worship Jesus and the part we always brush aside (or at least I do), Herod's 'slaughter squad' (Matthew 2:16). I was led to remember that while the birth of Jesus, or Christmas, is indeed a joyous and celebratory occasion, it was also followed by a period of mass innocent bloodshed of boys two years old and below. I was reminded that the other side of Christmas is also altogether not all that great, at least not for those who lost a child or two, or even more; definitely not for those who painfully bore the 'cost' of the Saviour's birth.
Hey, don't I feel a tinge of this 'unchristmassy' experience too?
This revelation reminded me that even though 'Mary's boy child Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas day' (yes, sing it with me still), we still live in a world filled with brokenness and pain (as seen from Herod's mass killing). But because the Saviour was born on Christmas Day, despite all the challenges and problems life has thrown or will throw at us, we now have hope to face them. And this is not just any ordinary hope, this is our Living Hope. Christ is now our Living Hope (1 Pet 1:3) the day Christ was born!
Yesterday I had the privilege to hear and read John Piper's 'The innkeeper' (fictional, but based off Matthew 2). Personally, it beautifully illustrates the theme that there is a Living Hope for us even in the midst of brokenness and pain. So if you are like me, feeling a little 'unchristmassy' as well this Christmas season, I pray that you too draw comfort (like I have) from the birth of Jesus, because His birth birthed forth for all who believe a Living Hope, even in the midst our our own 'Herod's slaughter squad' experience. Know that the Christmas story has a not so 'Christmassy' element, but focus thereafter more on the Hope that we can hold on to because of Jesus' birth.
"God’s ways are high, and you will know
In time. But I have come to show
You what the Lord prepared the night
You made a place for heaven’s light."
I thank God that I don't need to feel all 'christmassy' to truly experience the Christmas Hope (and you don't too.) Hope is just another perspective away. Walk on, with (Living) Hope in your heart. You'll never walk alone, yes, you'll never walk alone.
Guest post by Darius Leow