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Of Christmas Sadness…

by | Dec 23, 2022 | Christmas, Grief, Holidays, Joy & Happiness

Christmas is such a joyous time for so many. For others, not so much. Many are facing the first Christmas without a precious face around the Christmas tree, without the special cook in the kitchen, without that sweet voice of encouragement.

I faced such a Christmas last year. My dear mother passed away two days after Christmas in 2020, and Christmas 2021 just wasn’t the same. I also lost my grandmother just days after Christmas in 1997, my dad just days before Christmas in 1998, and my baby brother just days before Christmas in 2005. Before this all happened, I would have thought my story was unique; but since then I’ve learned that mine is but a minor version of the same theme! So many of you have lost loved ones at Christmas! And as a result, even if the losses aren’t fresh, this season can be difficult. And even if your loved one didn’t depart during the Christmas season, just the thought of these special holidays without that precious face can be overwhelming.

But wait. Christmas is a time of joy and good cheer! It is the celebration of the greatest birth in History! It represents the greatest gift ever given! It spearheads the greatest … wait a minute … I was going to type “sacrifice”… But THAT doesn’t fit with the theme, does it? Sacrifice isn’t positive! It doesn’t make us think of joy and good cheer!

That’s when it occurred to me that the first Christmas was also not without pain!

Let’s dissect this a bit…

First of all, try to put yourself in the shoes of the God of the universe. How would you have felt when Jesus was born? Oh, I know God was very, very happy that the plan of Salvation was being put into place. But His Son, a part of Himself, had left Heaven to be ridiculed and tormented on this earth, and then to die such a cruel death… It would be more than any parent could fathom.

Secondly, the entire pregnancy had been a very stressful time for Mary. She was, after all, a young, unmarried girl, and even her fiance wanted to put her away: “Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.” (Matthew 2:19 NLT)

And then there was the birth itself. The birth of a child is always such a wonderful, joyous occasion. But perhaps not for Mary and Joseph. There was no place for Mary to give birth, and she was forced to lay her newborn Son … in a trough used to feed animals! “And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” (Luke 2:6-7 NLT)

I can only imagine how cheery Mary must have been 8 days later when she went to the temple to dedicate her firstborn Son to God. I can sense her parental pride as she presented Jesus to the priests, and I can feel her happiness as Anna cooed over the baby, and then Simeon. But then, things turned a bit sour, didn’t it? Simeon’s response to her wasn’t all full of joy and glad tidings… “Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, ‘This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.‘” (Luke 2:34-35 NLT). How those words must have lingered in her thoughts. How they must have put a bit of a wet blanket, so to speak, over each of Jesus’ subsequent birthdays… No one wants to know that their newborn child will pierce their very soul!

And we can’t forget what happened after that. Jesus was likely not still a newborn when the Wise men came from the East; but immediately following their visit, Mary and Joseph, along with the Son of God, were fleeing for their very lives. Meanwhile, all babies 2 years and under in Bethlehem were slaughtered: “Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance.” (Matthew 2:16 NLT).

So even the first Christmas had sad undertones… But what if that were by design? After all, there is no great gift that doesn’t require some sacrifice. Would we appreciate Jesus’ gift as much if it hadn’t cost Him anything? Likely not.

Let’s remember this as we face the empty place around the Christmas Dinner table. God knows how we are feeling, for even the first Christmas was covered in pain. But just as that pain was for the greater good, God knows how to bring joy into our sadness as well. Instead of focusing on what we don’t have this year, why not focus on what we do have? Salvation and life eternal, all because Jesus: “…gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave  and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:7-8 NLT)

In His love,

Lyn Chaffart
Moderator, Associate Director, Answers2Prayer Ministries


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