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  • Writer's pictureChrystie Cole

The Now and Not Yet Of Christmas

The Christmas season can be full of joy. Seeing the wonder of Christmas through your child’s eyes for the first time. Reuniting with family or friends you don’t get to see throughout the year. Engaging in all your favorite traditions. There is much about Christmas that is true, good, and wonderful. But sometimes, the Christmas season makes you more painfully aware of all that is broken, hard and painful. Strained relationships. An empty seat at the table. The first Christmas without a child, a spouse, a sibling, or a parent. Sometimes it highlights that another year has passed and you still aren’t married, or you still haven’t been able to have a child of your own.

How do you eke out any joy when Christmas doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year? Maybe you try to fake it until you make it, putting on a smile, enduring the parties, and pretending everything is ok. Or maybe you minimize your pain and force yourself to get over it. Perhaps you even shame yourself for not being more grateful. But the loss you experienced over the last year matters. The pain and brokenness you’ve endured are not insignificant or trivial.

It is good and right to lament. Lament legitimizes your pain. But lamenting that only acknowledges your pain isn’t enough. True lament produces a soul-deep longing for redemption. It is a cry of faith to the only one who can right all the wrongs, mend what is shattered, and replace despair with hope. Lament is meant to lead us to Jesus.

Jesus entered our grief-stricken world to be a suffering servant, a man familiar with sorrow. He knew family strife, loneliness, abandonment, and betrayal. Even his own family doubted him and chastised him. He had few who truly understood him, what he had come to accomplish, and what it would cost him to do so.

He wept when Lazarus died, even though he knew he would raise him from the dead mere moments later. He grieved over his beloved Jerusalem—the city that killed its prophets and stoned those sent to call her to repentance and relationship with Yahweh. He suffered agony in the Garden before his arrest and crucifixion while his friends slept nearby.

While the festivities of Christmas can make others blind to your suffering, Jesus is undistracted. He sees you. He sees your sorrow, your pain, and your loss. He sees every tear, every sleepless night. He knows the agony of God’s silence, the pain of a friend’s betrayal, the abandonment of those closest to him, and the shame of abuse. And it is for that reason he came—to put an end to all that sin ushered into his good creation. He came to experience the worst of this world and willingly endured it all so that the comfort we might find in the Christmas story is that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.

The joy of Christmas is that, in Christ, hope arrived. The hope that one day death will be no more. The hope that one day sorrow, shame, pain, sickness, wars, injustice, hostilities, division, and mental illness will meet their final end. And yet, our hope has not yet been fully realized. There is still so much more we await, so much more we anticipate. And so, at Christmas, we also still scan the horizons, longing for the day he returns and will wipe every tear from our eyes.

Come, Jesus.


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