Perhaps this Christmas season is a difficult one for you. Perhaps it reminds you of loved ones who are no longer part of your life, due to death or strained relationships.
Life can be hard in very real and different ways. While our problems may be many and varied, there is one main solution: Jesus. And Jesus—no one and nothing else—is at the heart of Christmas. Yes, family is precious and important. But the truth is, many families are fractured, and while we should make every effort to forgive and ask for forgiveness, sometimes we simply don’t have the power to change the hearts and desires of estranged family and friends.
This season can be a painful reminder of who is and isn’t in the room and at the table. One who was with us last year may now be gone from this world. Another may have chosen not to join the family to celebrate Christmas. They may be in pain, and the rest of the family in pain and confusion or dismay.
Yet to those who love Him, “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you’” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus said, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
May we all be reminded of the angel’s message to the shepherds at Christ’s birth: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). The Greek adjective translated “great” here is megas—this isn’t just news, but good news of “mega-joy.”
This is the best news there has ever been or ever will be: because Jesus has come, in the end, life conquers death, joy triumphs over suffering. Happiness, not sorrow, has the last word—and it will have the last word forever. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
In his sermon “The First Christmas Carol”, Charles Spurgeon preached on the angels’ joyful song at the birth of Jesus: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14). He then talked about how their example should impact our view of happiness at Christmastime:
Friends, does not this verse, this song of angels, stir your heart with happiness? When I read that, and found the angels singing it, I thought to myself, “Then if the angels ushered in the gospel's great head with singing, ought I not to preach with singing? And ought not my hearers to live with singing? Ought not their hearts to be glad and their spirits to rejoice?” Well, thought I, there are some somber religionists who were born in a dark night in December that think a smile upon the face is wicked, and believe that for a Christian to be glad and rejoice is to be inconsistent. Ah! I wish these gentlemen had seen the angels when they sang about Christ; for angels sang about his birth [and] certainly men ought to sing about it as long as they live, sing about it when they die, and sing about it when they live in heaven for ever.
…Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say unto you rejoice. Specially this week be not ashamed to be glad. You need not think it a wicked thing to be happy. Penance and whipping, and misery are no such very virtuous things, after all. The damned are miserable; let the saved be happy. Why should you hold fellowship with the lost by feelings of perpetual mourning? Why not rather anticipate the joys of heaven, and begin to sing on earth that song which you will never need to end?
May you and your family experience a deep, God-given happiness as you celebrate His first coming, and look forward His second one—when all that’s broken in this world will be made right.
Merry Christmas from Nanci and me, and from all of the EPM staff! We know many of you and we love and appreciate you deeply. Those we don’t yet know we will someday, all who are fellow members of God’s family! When we sit in a living room and a table together this Christmas, let’s remind ourselves we will sit at a larger table that includes all of God’s children from throughout human history and around the world today, some here in this world, some already with our Savior and King.
We are true family, brothers and sisters who are children of our common Father, and together are the bride of our beloved Jesus Christ. Wherever we are, whatever our circumstances, whether we gather for the holidays in homes full of love and grace, or in ones full of tension and strife or sadness and loneliness, may we sense our connection to our Lord and to each other in the greater family of God.
Jesus was still speaking to the crowds when suddenly His mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to speak to Him. Someone told Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to You.”
But He replied to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.”
Matthew 12:46-50, Holman Christian Standard Bible