Are you going through something difficult this Christmas season? Has the momentous year of 2020 been a hard year for you?
I'd like to remind you of the blessed hope that Christmas brings to all of those who are dealing with difficulties, trauma and grief this year! Christmas is especially for people who are going through the "hard."
We, even as believers in Jesus Christ, have been culturally romanced by reindeer that dance, gently frosted windowpanes with a roasted chestnut or two thrown in. Isn't it miraculous to know that those cultural niceties don't begin to describe the depth and the wonder of this miraculous season?
Christmas is precisely for people who have experienced disappointment and despair and turmoil. Jesus came to bring you hope and peace on the hardest days of your life.
Elizabeth and Zacharias had lived a "hard" life of dashed hopes and dreams. Although married for decades, they had never held a newborn baby in their arms.
There had been no 3 a.m. feedings for this elderly couple, no dirty diapers and no sweet baby chortles. There had only been month after month, year after year of disappointment and dashed hopes.
Their life had not turned out the way that they had hoped. Are you able to relate to the all-consuming disappointment of Elizabeth and Zacharias?
"Do not fear, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son" (Luke 1:13b).
Was it even possible after decades of marriage that they would conceive and bear a son? Would Elizabeth's elderly frame be able to withstand nine months of pregnancy and then the pain of giving birth?
It is true that God absolutely hears the prayers of people going through "hard." He is listening intently to your requests and loves it when a believer comes to Him boldly and unashamedly.
Christmas is a time of expectation! We should all expect heaven's entrance into our disappointing world. Christmas is a time that reminds us that miracles really do happen, prayers are actually answered and heaven is just one response away.
Elizabeth and Zacharias were not the only people in the biblical account of the Christmas story who had lived a hard human existence. The shepherds, also, lived lives of hopeless endurance and raw human mundane.
Shepherds were dirty, uneducated men with grime under their fingernails and the sludge of life in their brains.
There were a group of these shepherds one night, huddled around a fire in the inky, black of night. These muddy specimens of humanity were likely cold and shivering while trying to stay awake.
Shepherds were a hopeless crew of men with nothing to look forward to because they knew that nothing about their lives would ever change. Life can become quickly pointless if you are a man who lives with sheep drool on his clothes and sheep dung between his toes.
There was a night that seemed no different from thousands of other dark, cold lonely nights for this woebegone band of brothers. When the night couldn't get any blacker and the sheep couldn't get any more cantankerous, suddenly, in an instant of time, something so miraculous happened that life would never again be the same for them—or for you and me.
"And then an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very afraid" (Luke 2:9).
Unexpectedly, heaven exploded into their small, cold and dark world. The song of the angels burst forth into the war zone of earth and proclaimed the joy of heaven into the hopeless and meaningless existence of the shepherds.
Stars were falling and bursting in rare and glorious colors while the heavens opened and a majestic angel choir began to sing a mighty symphony that can still be heard today!
"But the angel said to them, "Listen! Do not fear. For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 1:10-11).
The song of the angels was never meant to be heard only by a solitary group of shepherds. When the angels sang that night, they were singing to those of you with the drool of life upon your heart and with the dung of circumstances in your soul.
Life is certainly hard at times, but the hope of eternity has arrived because of Christmas!
Just because your life is "hard" this Christmas season is not a valid reason to ignore the grand celebration of ages past.
Just because you are dealing with emotional pain or ravaging disappointment is not an excuse to ignore the Christ child's entrance into your heart and into your home.
Jesus came into your "hard" and nothing will ever be the same again.
Rather than focusing on your pain and your difficult circumstances this year, choose to set your gaze firmly on the baby in the manger. He came to deliver joy, to bring peace and to give hope to your particular "hard" corner of the world.
His presence changes everything for you and for me. His birthday should be celebrated with joy, with song, with reverence and with praise! Joy truly has come to your world, and nothing will ever be the same again.
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. Carol has written 11 books, including Significant, StormProof and Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue. Her teaching DVD, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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