I confess on some past Christmases I have given in to sadness. Celebrating has seemed difficult.
There are two reasons for this. One has been because I have been facing difficult times during the Christmas season. Life wasn’t going according to my plan. People sinned against me in ways I never thought I’d have to deal with.
The other reason I’ve been melancholy at Christmas is because of the suffering of others.
It breaks my heart to see what people go through. I feel this way especially about family members, friends, fellow Christians, and those I minister to in the world of the mentally ill. Some days I ache over what happens to strangers I read about in the newspaper or hear about on the news.
But this year I feel joyful—perhaps more so than I have in quite awhile.
I haven’t been embracing the negative thoughts in my head about all that’s wrong at Christmas time. Instead I’ve heard God whisper four words about Jesus each time I think of something bad that’s happening in my world or in the world of those I love and care about.
He has been saying of Jesus, “That’s why He came.”
Someone died during this holiday season. That’s why He came—to take the sting of death away.
A precious one is riddled with sickness. That’s why He came—to heal all of our diseases.
People are going through loss, hardship, emotional pain. That’s why He came—to heal broken hearts, to bind up wounds, to set prisoners free.
When I think of this phrase “That’s why He came,” an old Christmas song comes to mind.
The carol, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” is based on an 1864 poem “Christmas Bells” written by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The last two stanzas go like this:
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.
I’m also thinking of the familiar verse that so many of us first heard early in our Christian walks: John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Love, giving, eternal life.
That’s why He came.
What about you? Are you or a loved one going through a difficult time this Christmas season? Are you able to embrace the truth: “That’s why He came?” Will you make the decision to celebrate His coming even so and even though? Isn’t it amazing? Jesus is Emmanuel—God with us. Thank You, Jesus.
I pray for you and yours a blessed Christmas and joy and peace in the new year.