The birth of Jesus Christ is ample cause for celebration. Jesus came to save us — to redeem our lives here on our earth and to complete that redemption by taking us, when we die, to spend eternity with Him. And unlike the merit-based Santa system, Jesus loves each and every person, no matter how bad or good.
But for many followers of Christ, Christmas 2010 may not be the most wonderful time of the year. I know a family at church with a recent cancer diagnosis. This lovely family has three children roughly the same ages as mine, and now their daddy is facing advanced disease. A former babysitter of mine, who is now twenty-six, was tragically widowed this week. This godly young woman is one of the sweetest, most beautiful girls I have ever known. She and her equally impressive sister have babysat for me untold times since little Will was about a year old. Then yesterday, I heard about some family friends in Michigan. This young couple entered the hospital to deliver their baby girl, yet a fatal blood clot means this anguished daddy will leave the hospital with his baby but not his wife.
Solomon wrote, “Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20)
So this Christmas may we remember those who are hurting, may we acknowledge their sorrow and not pour vinegar on their broken hearts. May we pray that when they see the Baby in the manger, they will know that He suffered, that He is full of compassion, that His love knows no bounds. May we be ambassadors of His love and His peace. And may we know that the promise is for all of us — those expecting tonight and tomorrow to be full of joy and laughter, and those who are gripped by grief or facing serious illness. The promise is that this isn’t all there is. Justice and mercy met on the cross, and therefore we are offered a tearless, fearless, blissful eternity in a place that knows no darkness or pain of any kind.
One of my favorite Christmas books, that I read with my boys many times every year, is a sweet little book about the animals in the stable. It is called, Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Jason Cockcroft. Cockcroft’s treatment of light is beautiful. The book closes with these words, and my prayer is that YOU believe them and cling to them in a literal, life-transforming way:
“That cold winter’s night, beneath the star’s light a Little One came for the world.”