When Christmas Hurts…

Teddy Bear looks out window

As soon as “Peppermint Mocha” becomes an option at coffee shops, I declare it Christmas season. Pretty soon, giant nativities and blow-up snowmen pepper front yards, strangers exchange “Happy Holidays,” and everything turns a shade of green or red. I tend to be a sucker for it, at first. I get excited about the impending season as soon as fall hits. But the dream of a white Christmas quickly fades. For me, and many of my friends, Christmas feels less “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and more “Home Alone.”

For many people, the approaching Yule Tide comes with stress and dread. How do I schedule Christmas celebrations with mom and dad, so that neither feels shafted? Or, what do I do if I can’t afford gifts for everyone? Or, will my uncles who can’t stand each other keep the peace this year? Suddenly, a season of celebration becomes more about survival. Just make it to January, and everything will be okay.

We have this joke in my family: “It’s not a holiday until someone starts crying.” It’s true. For some, joy comes to the world, but conflict comes to ours. And often, I feel like I am left alone to deal with it.

Kristina Quote

If you are in the same boat, you probably know that this is a time when it is easy to blame God or get frustrated because yet again, you have prayed for your family, but things are still difficult. This year, I encourage you to join me in asking God to prepare us, instead of our situations. This is what I mean:

The author of Hebrews warns about disobedience in his fourth chapter. Nestled in this rich chapter of warning is a verse that, if you have been in Christian circles for a while, you will probably recognize:

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

I had grown numb to the strong language of this verse until recently. Just think about a two-edged sword piercing all the way down to joints and bones. That is intense. It is painful. And it is one of the role of God’s Word. Now consider the first Psalm:

“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

This blessed man, what does he delight in?

What does he meditate on? When?

Again, the law, or word, of the Lord has an important role. Here, it is what sets apart the righteous man from the wicked. (Fun side note: The word “meditates” is used in Isaiah 31 to describe a lion growling over its prey. There’s another vivid image of what we are to do with the Word!) If this righteous man is described as a tree, what quenches his thirst? The streams of water that represent the Word of God! It is his vitality, filling his limbs and making him able to bear fruit.

 This Christmas, as much as I want to duck my head and push through to New Years, I’m choosing something different. I want to open the Word of the Lord and say, “Pierce me. Cut out any and all sin that I bring to this situation.” And, “Fill me. Give my limbs fresh water. Make me alive and righteous.”

Kristina Quote 2

Whether you cannot wait to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas or you’re wishing for just one silent night, the Word of the Lord is the answer to not simply surviving this season, but thriving. In my experience, the ways that the Word cuts deep and refreshes makes everything somehow bearable. The situation is still difficult, but I become more equipped to live in it peacefully. This season may mean pain, but it also means healing and growth through God’s Word.  

Kristina

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