Beautiful carols, fine clothing, delicious food, gifts and more. Christmas is for celebrating and enjoying God's goodness. He sent His Son, Immanuel, God With Us, to save us and to make things right. Try as we may, to capture the essence of this spiritual reality, it doesn't always seem so.
In spite of health, family togetherness, and other comforts, this Christmas the children are grown and the childlike wonder is gone. This Christmas sadness lingers from breakdown of extended family ties from the aftermath of divorce and distant relationships. This Christmas new gifts were delivered with damage and the keeping of holiday traditions caused expensive messes!
This Christmas the rain fell and roads became icy and we couldn't see the outdoor lights as we usually do. My tooth has been sore and sensitive ( reflecting my emotions in an ironic manner) despite efforts to relieve the pain, so this Christmas I can only carefully enjoy the goodies.
This Christmas I have heard people question spiritual training and its importance. I have heard others echo my struggle to deal with lost trust in leaders and those we love. I have had "givens" become "non-givens" and Christmas feels much different.
Things still aren't right this Christmas. How many people over the ages since the first Christmas, have felt things aren't right? Aren't they supposed to be, now, this side of Christmas? Things aren't right in my world this Christmas. Not to mention world hunger, murder, catastrophic events, abuse, natural disasters, and war to name a few problems which others are experiencing. This reminder re-focuses my selfish perspective for awhile. It is not hard to see that Christmas has not made everything right. There is not peace on earth as we like to sing.
BUT.... it is well with my soul. How can that be? I pondered that as I lay awake thinking in my bed last night. Ecclesiastes 3:11 states that God has put "eternity in our hearts" and by now it should be clear in your life and mine, that this life is not eternity. There are endings to things we want to last. It is not what our hearts long for. No matter how we try to dress it up , try to make this world heaven, no matter how close it may come at times, for some of us, it will never be!!
It is still not right this Christmas, because although Jesus came and he brought hope, although he lived and healed and gave purpose, although he died to buy us back from the captivity of our sin, we are not there yet. God has just given us a glimpse and put it in our hearts to search out. We can only dream of it being right one day. The longing isn't bad, nor the pain. They teach us to let go of this world and look again to Jesus.
He came into this not-right world many years ago and although it wasnt' right then, He spoke of how He could make things right in the hearts of men and how one day things would be right with the world. He left this not-right world, after a short earthly life, to go prepare a right place for us where we will be in Immanuel's presence.
Now we wait. And while we wait may we have calm confidence, like Anna and Simeon, in the promises of God. May we enjoy the things we can at Christmas, this Christmas, but when it comes up short, may our inner peace be the thing that sustains us and gives inner joy! As we live in between Christmas and Eternity, may what is not right keep us looking and learning and longing. THAT actually may be exactly what IS right - this Christmas!!
written December 2009, revised December 2010