Christmas songs are meant to be cheery and fun, and bearable for a short while. They are meant to bring about smiles, laughter, and to bring back memories of being a kid when Christmas was magical.
But sometimes Christmas songs come on the radio after you’ve had a rough day, after you have lost your job, after you have lost a loved one, or after you have lost a relationship, and you listen to the cheeriness of the song, and you turn the radio off. The song doesn’t match what you are going through.
Christmas can be “the most wonderful time of the year”, or it can be the most depressing. It can be full of Joy, or it can be full of sorrow. You’re supposed to feel excited about giving and receiving gifts and spending time with family, but sometimes that causes anxiety.
And you’re supposed to be celebrating the birth of Jesus…but sometimes that birth feels like another Christmas song; a celebration that doesn’t fit your reality.
It's not that Jesus doesn’t matter to you, he does. But when you’ve been in a pit for quite some time, it's hard to conceive of the idea of a savior coming into your life when you’ve felt alone for months or years. And its actually in that place of disappointment where the meaning of Christmas comes alive.
When Christ came into the world, it wasn’t perfect, it was broken, angry, and bitter. Those who hoped for a messiah wanted someone to lead them in warfare; someone to help them overthrow their oppressive government for good (because the last time didn’t last).
What the world got was a baby.
The world, which longed to be redeemed, got a tiny baby who cried during the night and had to undergo potty training before leading anyone.
But that's what makes Jesus better than a Christmas song.
He understands people because God became human and breathed in our joy, sorrow, and heartache through living in a body like our own.
Jesus understands the feeling of sitting at a table for a holiday gathering with people he knew did not like him or accept him to be who he was (Luke 22:1–23).
He understands feelings of intense anxiety and depression that cause you to shake in fear (Luke 22:39–44)
He understands what it's like to be betrayed by someone you love — even what it is like to be betrayed with a kiss, to be betrayed intimately (Luke 22:47–48)
He understands what it is like to have loved ones abandon you in your time of need (Luke 22:54–62).
Jesus also understands what is like to be mocked in your time of distress, and to have to defend who you are (Luke 22:63–71).
And so, if you, or someone you know, are facing a tough Christmas season, know that Jesus understands what pain feels like, even when Christmas songs and carols tend to ignore that pain.
A big part of why Christ came to earth as a baby was to experience the life that we live so that He can save us from the imprisonment of our affliction like a friend who has been where we are at and has found the way out.
The birth of Christ was the answer of God to wade into our darkness to bring forth a light that has walked through darkness and who has made it out.
It is in this understanding that even those that are suffering can have a Merry Christmas; someone understands them, and that someone is our God.
“The light came down
Cast the darkness away
A helpless child
The light of God came down”