“If the Lord had not been on our side”— let Israel say this!— 2 if the Lord had not been on our side, when men attacked us,
3 they would have swallowed us alive, when their anger raged against us. 4 The water would have overpowered us; the current would have overwhelmed us. 5 The raging water would have overwhelmed us. 6 The Lord deserves praise, for he did not hand us over as prey to their teeth. 7 We escaped with our lives, like a bird from a hunter’s snare. The snare broke, and we escaped. 8 Our deliverer is the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth.”
Christmas can be a difficult time for many. The celebration of Christmas does not deliver what we hoped. Painful memories echo in our minds of family members who left us or harmed us. Thoughts of what should have been or could have been – regrets and dreads can loom large and steal our joy. Maybe you do not even want to read this or dare to hope that there could actually be real joy at Christmas – keep reading. The world offers many solutions for this emptiness of our soul. Entertainment, satisfying the flesh, avoiding the pain. God’s prescription is quite different – feel the pain in all of our humanity, but come to Him, Who can heal our souls. It is not a “just be happy” or just “choose to be happy” solution, but it is a choice to come to God and a real answer in the face of real pain.
On Wednesdays I always read from the book of Psalms. A songwriter myself, I cherish David’s songs – a heart cry to His LORD. If anyone understands what it is to have emotional torment, it is David. He could have been diagnosed with many labels in his day – PTSD, panic and anxiety disorders, even depression. He said as much in many of the Psalms. But He was looking to One who he knew would resolve the battle within. David demonstrated again and again what looking to God for help would do – give hope and peace – even joy again.
That is what Christ does for us. He offers us hope through His trustworthy promises and deliverance. Christ understands suffering, too, and when we look to the Christ child this Christmas, we see a God Who is our Master, but Who also walks beside us. He chooses to call us friend – we are friends with a King! Now a King can grant any request – so it is with our God. Happiness at Christmas or any other time is not based on getting what we want, but on being content with what God has allowed. We can trust Him and He can bring real lasting joy more than a day ever could.
Pain is real – what do we do with it? The pain may not be absent and scars might last the rest of our days, but there is a healing balm in Jerusalem found in an infant Who changes our heart, understanding and perspective. The compassion gained through our pain is a beautiful gift we lay at the feet of our baby King, and He is pleased. May we lay down our idols as gifts much like Frankincense, gold and Myrrh, of what we wanted from life and Christmas and humbly accept the gift of life that God has given us. This is when joy enters our soul and we are relieved of the burden we have been holding onto. Give it all to Him and ask Him to help deliver you. He will do it and His grace is sufficient to all who call on His Name. It is going to be a Merry Christmas, after all, friend.
Thank You, LORD, for the amazing gift of your baby Son. What a treasure, what a delight! We lay our burdens at Your feet and trust You with all of what life brings our way. Amen.