Christmas is so near, can you feel it? Like “its next week”-kind-of-near. I don’t want to be Ms. Scrooge but I think it would be a disservice to you and to me, to not be totally real with you. This oncoming celebration of Christmas will be hard for many, many people. When we usually think of Christmas, we think of holiday cheer, hot cocoa, reindeer, laughter, and the little baby in a manger of our nativity scene. We rarely think of pain or sadness, unless you are the one feeling it.
I don’t know about you, but the world and life has felt un-peaceful lately. Shootings, bombings, racial animosity, heartache, the death of family members or friends and countless other things that make life seem overwhelming. The world is weary around us. Maybe you don’t feel it now, maybe you have been in a season of ache, or maybe you are about to walk through such a season. I am not really sure, but what I do know is that this season may not be as cheery for some and I want to tell you… I see you, friend, and I don’t want you to feel unnoticed. The aching in your heart doesn’t have to be brushed aside for this next month. I wish we could sit and talk, maybe cry (okay, most likely cry) and hear about this season of life you have been walking through.
Lately, I have been learning that heartache and pain is part of this life. Sometimes life changes dramatically, things happen, people get sick, relationships end, a diagnosis comes back that changes everything, unexpected grief hits out of nowhere. Many times we, especially as girls, feel like we have to have it all together, or at least act like we have it all together. When heartache hits, we feel like we have to keep it together and not be a hot mess. On top of that, there’s this expectation that when the calendar flips to December, everything will turn cheery and bright. So what if I told you that it’s okay to not be okay, that you’re allowed to be a mess and for the tears to fall if they need to?
It is okay to not be okay, sweet sister. Do you know that this is the very reason we have Christmas? Jesus didn’t trade His throne in heaven for a manger for no reason.
In the midst of heartache, we see how not just broken we are by our sin, but how our hearts can be broken and dreams completely shattered. The whole reason Jesus came to this earth was to redeem us, restore us, rescue us, and be near to us. He is in the healing business. He didn’t come because we have it all together; He came because we are in desperate need of His grace and His nearness, when times are grand and when we are on our knees weeping.
Where is the hope then you may ask? Where does the joy in Christmas really come from? The Lord in His sovereignty and His great love for us, stepped down into our world, put on flesh, and took on suffering of many kinds. He knows what it means to have pain; He knows what it means to suffer; He knows what it means to ache. Our Savior wept and is well acquainted with grief. (John 11:35, Luke 19:41, Matthew 26:37-38, many more) The fourth chapter of Hebrews describes Jesus as our great high priest, one who is able to sympathize with us, therefore we can confidently draw near to the throne of God- specifically in our times of weakness. When things don’t make sense and life seems to be overwhelming, He is near. The Lord has shown me grace in my own life that though my heart is deceitful and still self- seeking, He is still near to me. The manger and the cross allow that to happen.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there is… “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” That means we are allowed to cry and we have straight up permission to express our grief, our sadness and how our heart is cracked straight down the middle- even amidst the Christmas season. But within that, we are not left alone in our tears because we have hope in the manger and in the cross, and the truth that the Lord is near.
“Immanuel” is one of the first names of Jesus we hear in the New Testament and its
one we hear often around this time of year. It is a name that has taken on a new realness to me lately because it means “God withus”. Jesus means Immanuel. Immanuel means God with us. Therefore, Jesus means God is with us. Because the “little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head”, we have hope. We have hope that the Lord is walking with us and never forsaking us. Our circumstances may not change and the aching in our hearts may still linger but we can take refuge in Him. We have access to His word and His spirit. Because of that we can eventually laugh and dance again, resting and testifying how close the Lord is and how great His love is for us.
This allows me to say- my heart is broken and I am hurting but I still have hope. We find refuge in the Creator of all things. We cry out to the King of Kings. We draw near to the Good Shepard. We are pruned by the Vinedresser. We are comforted by the Immanuel. We sit before the throne of Almighty God. And that is why we can have a Merry Christmas, my sweet friend. Praise Jesus.
“But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you, may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and deliverer, do not delay, O my God!”
Hi there! I am Sarah! I wrote what you just read! I am a junior, psychology student at VCU and love the city more than I ever thought I would. So much so that I run all through it, as much as my legs allow. Love me some Ukrop’s cake. Love writing. Love my big God. Love Cru. And love YOU! Thanks for reading!