I often hear adults proclaim that as we grow older, the magic of Christmas fades.
When I think about past Christmases, there were many where I felt despair and loneliness.
Christmas didn’t feel magical; it was a reminder of a missing loved one, family conflict, a recent divorce, financial stress, infertility, rejection, medical issues, and brokenness. For me, there were times that at Christmas, it seemed, the brokenness and hurt in the world were magnified. At Christmas, more than any other time, I felt this world was not our home. The world isn’t the way He originally meant for it to be.
My little girl and I were talking this week about the sad parts of our individual stories. I told her that every human, who lives long enough, has unfortunate parts to their stories too: it is the human condition.
God created the world.
Adam and Eve made a personal decision to disobey God. Brokenness now became part of the world, every system, every structure, and every person’s experience.
Jesus, our Hope, was born. He came to redeem. He was spat on, beaten, ridiculed, rejected, and endured the most brutal death for us.
He now invites us to engage in redemptive work, to share the hope only He can provide.
God is with us.
I was reminding my little girl that in the saddest parts of our stories, I believe God is there allowing humans to make the choices they make, while at the same time caring for us. He doesn’t leave us.
“What do you mean?” she said as we both cried.
I told my daughter that when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and they were ashamed. God, in his abundant goodness, made them clothes even though they disobeyed. He took care of them, even in their disobedience.
A lot of the sad parts of our stories though, involve others making choices that hurt us and change our lives forever. Sometimes, those tragic parts of our story leave us feeling rejected, ashamed, broken, and unworthy. And if God is with people in disobedience, I know He is with us when we are hurting because of someone else’s.
Immanuel. God with us.
“The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).” – Isaiah 7:14
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20
With tears in our eyes, my six-year-old daughter and I reflected on what that meant for us in practical terms of Jesus being with us in the lowest points of our lives.
I think every single time I looked at one of the hundreds of negative pregnancy tests, He was right there with me in my despair. I know He so wished I could see what was ahead, not to minimize my pain, but to point to hope.
“Do you think He was with me in the sad parts of my story?”
“Yes, I do. He is with us. And I believe He loves us so much, that He is actively working. He takes your sad moments, He takes my sad moments, and He uses those for His good. He also used my sad moments and your sad moments to bring us together. It doesn’t make those sad moments less sad, but it shows His goodness.”
I reminded my daughter that all humans make mistakes, and someday, she will make big mistakes and hurt others. He takes your brokenness, and He takes my brokenness and He says, “I am with you. I love you. You are mine.”
At Christmas, many of us feel the grief and despair in this world at greater levels. We hate Christmas because we feel lonely and we see the brokenness of our families and situations. We feel different than others, perhaps like we don’t belong. In that, we recognize that this world is not as He meant it to be.
And in this season, may we find comfort in the hope that was found in the birth of Jesus, Immanuel, God is with us who came to love us in our mistakes, brokenness, loneliness and despair. May we rediscover that the gifts under the tree leave us feeling empty, but the gift of Jesus gives us hope in our despair.
So many of us want someone to really see us — to see the most broken and unloveable parts, and love us anyways. He does. When many of us hurt, we don’t want to hear words of comfort. We just want to know that someone will be with us in our hurt. He is.
What a gift.
At the end of the new Grinch movie, the Grinch realizes, “It wasn’t Christmas I hated. It was being alone.” The gift of Christmas is that we are never alone. Perhaps some of us feel more alone at Christmas to point us to why Jesus was born after all.
Immanuel, God is with us. He came to redeem us and the brokenness of this world.
Christmas doesn’t lose its magic as we grow older. As we grow older, we desperately need reminded of the true magic of Christmas even more.
You were never alone. You are never alone. He loves us. Our worthiness of love is not based on us, but it is grounded in Him.