When Christmas Isn’t Merry
By Erica Hunt
It was the last place I wanted to be after the six-hour drive home from college. I’d been home just a few minutes when I was told we were going to the hospital to visit a dear family friend losing her battle with cancer.
My steps were slow as I walked into the hospital. With a heavy heart, I followed the rest of my family up the stairs. The setting sun on that December afternoon darkened the tiny room. In an attempt to bring some holiday cheer, we gathered around her bed and sang Christmas carols.
As I sang, I couldn’t help but marvel at the words from “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in Thee tonight.” Even though this song was written over one hundred years ago, about the birth of Christ two thousand years earlier, it rang true in that moment at the foot of a hospital bed. And it still rings true for us today.
Everyone knows the holiday season is supposed to be “the most wonderful time of the year,” full of magic and lights and laughter and cheer. But during the holiday season, there are many experiencing some kind of hurt or suffering. Mixed with the joy and laughter, there is weeping. For some, it’s difficult to hear carols or see happy family commercials. December’s rituals can bring memories of painful moments. Christmas can increase the feelings of loneliness, depression, stress, anxiety and the hurts of living in a fallen world.
In contrast to the darkness of the world, lies the remarkable reality of Christmas. Our hopes and our fears are met in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the promise of hope sent to us in our darkness. In our brokenness, Christ brings a hope of restoration. In our pain and sickness, He brings healing. In division, there is hope of reconciliation. In death there is hope of a resurrection and eternal life. Christ’s hope illuminates the world darkened and marred by sin.
Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of deep darkness on them has light shined.”
These words were a prophecy of the coming of Christ hundreds of years before his birth. Yet, they are relevant today as we walk in a world darkened by sin, or sit at the foot of hospital beds, or stand in the mess in our kitchen. Christ has come! We can look to the light of Christ to meet our needs today.
You may be experiencing tough things in your life right now, but you can rest in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Sin was defeated at the cross but our salvation became possible because of his incarnation.
Emmanuel, God with us. We do not have to fear death or eternal separation from God, because deliverance from our sin and sorrows entered our realm. The hope of Christmas has given us comfort for these moments, and joy in the anticipation of Jesus’ return to redeem our fallen world. Jesus, the babe in the manger, is our hope!
- When you feel overcome by the darkness of the world this Christmas, remember to look to Christ for hope.
- Ask God to bring you peace in the midst of sorrow.
- Find a song or a poem which brings you hope. Post it where you can read it or listen to it throughout the season.
- Be aware of, and look for those within your community, who are struggling this Christmas and reach out to them.
Erica lives with her husband, Justin, in South Dakota. She teaches middle school and loves traveling, collecting quotes, learning fun facts and historical information, drinking coffee, eating ice cream and enjoying good conversation with friends.