Experiencing pain is difficult in any situation, during any time of year. But it can be especially hard in the weeks leading up to Christmas. While traditions and family gatherings can be wonderful experiences, they can also be excruciating reminders of what once was and is no longer—the life and presence of a beloved relative, the plan and dream of what we imagined our lives would be, the broken marriage or relationship with a son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister.
Sometimes we think our grief and struggle separates us from Christmas and its celebrations. But, what if the pain we’re enduring actually puts us in the story of Christmas?
As the people of God waited for the Savior to be born, they lamented what once was—the obviously active presence of God in their lives, the realized dream of life in the land of milk and honey, the wholeness of doing family, life, and faith together in Israel—but was no longer. They felt like God had gone silent if He was even still present. Their realities were as separate from their dreams as exile was from the Promised Land. They’d lost the sense of home—of their physical homeland and of the settled feeling of belonging.
The themes of this Advent season—hope, peace, joy, and love—were so powerful that first Christmas, because they were so desperately needed. May that be true for you this year. If you find yourself feeling like hope, peace, joy, and love are lofty—even unreachable—ideals…if you’re desperate for them and dare to reach for them…then you’re in the perfect position and posture to experience the power of this season.