Sometimes I think my heart is two times too small.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do like Christmas. I like getting to watch my kids open presents and sit around the tree and watch reruns of Seinfeld and The Andy Griffith Show. I’m happy when it snows on Christmas (something we don’t get in Florida). I like seeing tastefully decorated houses. Heck, I even like some Christmas music (don’t get me started on “Mary Did You Know?”).
But Christmas often brings out the gloomy side of me as well. I’m reminded of one of my favorite families who, because of cancer, no longer has a dad around the house.
I’m reminded of some of my favorite people who, after many years of patiently waiting, are still single. I’m reminded of my own ongoing battles with physical anxiety and depression.
I’m reminded of things lost and relationships broken.
I’m reminded of ISIS and Planned Parenthood and racism and violence.
I’m reminded of grief.
After the tree is down and the wrapping paper put away and the music silenced and the eggnog polished off, all the problems still remain. Evil and sadness and suffering return to center stage.
I think one of the reasons we cling so tightly to Christmas is that it helps us forget about our problems for awhile. For a few, brief days, everything seems as it should be. We long for a white Christmas because the snow covers up all the mud and muck.
I know Christmas is supposed to be magical and special, but it often feels like a veneer covering badly rotted teeth. I know that not all is as it should be, and Christmas can be a poignant reminder of that.
My propensity toward Christmas gloom is one of the reasons I am so grateful for Jesus. Not in a “Jesus is the reason for the season,” kind of way, but in a “Jesus is a holy warrior,” kind of way.
In Matthew 8-9, Jesus cleanses a leper, heals a centurion’s servant, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, calms a storm, drives demons out of two raving madmen, heals a paralytic, raises a girl from the dead, heals two blind men, and heals a man who is unable to speak.
In the comments section ofThe Gospel Transformation Bible it says:
Wherever Jesus goes he brings the reign of God, and where God reigns, the invisible powers of the universe in rebellion against him are banished and left powerless to do anyone ultimate harm…Since believers are united with Christ, they share Christ’s victory over evil.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true meaning of Christmas. Wherever Jesus goes he brings the reign of God! Christmas is ultimately about the kingdom of God coming to this sad, broken, sin-marred world. Christmas is ultimately about a baby who would grow into a mighty warrior – a warrior who would crush Satan, undo sadness, defeat death, and ensure that it would be always Christmas and never winter.
Listen closely. For just a moment, tune out the Christmas music and television commercials. Do you hear that slow creaking and cracking noise? It’s the sound of Satan’s skull being slowly crushed underneath the foot of our conquering Savior.
Now we suffer. Now we experience cancer and migraines and anxiety and singleness and sadness and loneliness and poverty. Now we are afflicted by sin and Satan and our flesh. But not always.
Ultimately, Christmas should give the most hope to those who hate Christmas. Things won’t always be this way.
As it says in 1 John 3:8, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Those are such sweet words. Christmas is a celebration of war! Jesus himself has declared open season on Satan. He came to destroy all the works of the evil one. He came to wipe away tears and heal broken bodies and lift up despondent hearts and drive out fear and destroy loneliness.
John the Baptist was somewhat confused by the ministry of Jesus. He wondered why Jesus hadn’t ushered in the kingdom of God as part of his ministry. When John’s disciples posed this to Jesus, he replied:
Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.
Is Jesus ushering in the kingdom of God? Yes, but not yet. That’s coming. It was promised in Genesis 3 with the birth of a child who would crush the serpent’s head. It will be fulfilled when Jesus casts the dragon into the lake of fire and creates a new heaven and new earth.
Christmas is a reminder that the kingdom is coming. Dawn is breaking. The darkness cannot conquer the light. Sauron will not win, Mordor will not triumph.
If you’re feeling gloomy, take heart. If you’re feeling broken, take courage. If you’re in the midst of grief, take solace.
Jesus is for those who hate Christmas. Now, it may feel like it’s always winter and never Christmas, but Spring is coming.