This year feels so heavy after all the things we’ve been through since January. There are so many deaths. Some lost their jobs, businesses, or livelihood. Others battled with depression. Nine months of quarantine and we were still clueless as to how long our current situation will last.
There is a long list of reasons to be discouraged. I haven’t seen my family this year. I had facial paralysis. I was idle for a few months after the lock down. I went through silent battles, with no traces anywhere. It has been very challenging for all of us. We don’t know what the future holds. The uncertainty has left us unable to dream, to plan, to hope.
Because of the heartaches and the bitter reality we are facing right now, some of us find it hard to celebrate anything. I’m sure you’ve heard the Christmas story countless times. You’re probably tired of hearing it because it doesn’t even change anything. It’s always the same. But if you’re still reading up to this point, would you mind reading this one?
The frustrations during the Christmas season is because we know WHAT we are celebrating but we don’t know WHY we are celebrating. We grew up with the culture so we just keep doing it every year. Christmas sends a message of hope. But to fully appreciate that message, we have to understand the importance of this day. Hope, it is somehow especially difficult to find these days and impossible to have apart from God. If there is hope for a spiritually dead soul, there is definitely hope for us in the days to come.
We all the know the story of creation in Genesis. God created the world and then He created the first man and woman. Everything was good until Adam and Eve had fallen from grace. They sinned against a holy God. Because of that sin, humanity were banished in the presence of the Lord. We were not allowed to stand in the presence of a holy God much like the way we won’t place our sweaty/muddy used clothes in a pile of clean clothes. A holy God cannot stand the presence of blemish, in our case, sin.
If you’re going to read the Old Testament, you’ll see that not everyone could come in the presence of God. Only appointed people were allowed to come near. Otherwise, they would die. If someone sinned, a sacrifice was needed. There would be shedding of blood that represents life which is the penalty for sin. The simple truth that still applies to us today is that eternal damnation is knocking on our doors, waiting for our souls to be taken away where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Going back to the Old Testament story, despite the immorality and the waywardness of the people, God always made a way for them to experience His goodness and His power. God promised that He will send someone to save the souls that are bound to die forever. He knew that no one can ever pay for the price of sin in order to get where He is. Kings after kings came but the promised Savior wasn’t one of them. People kept waiting for the One who would save them. Generations after generations have passed. Until one night, a baby was born in a manger.
How can a holy God dwell among sinful men? Why would a heavenly King come down to save unbelieving, ungrateful, rebellious human beings? The answer is simple, love. He loves people so much that even though our lives demonstrated that His will is not worthy to be obeyed, He chose to give us a chance to make a decision — decision to receive the eternal life available through His death and resurrection.
The birth of our Savior is a message of hope. If God can send His Son for our salvation, He can come through in any situation. Our joy is anchored in knowing who our God is. We celebrate the coming of the Messiah. His life made way for us to stand in the presence of God, holy, righteous, and blameless, justified through the blood of the Lamb. I am thankful that I don’t need to sacrifice anything for my sins because where would I find as many perfect lambs? Once and for all, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice to bridge the gap between God and man.
The life of Jesus is an example of a life lived to the full even in the absence of wealth. His life is a message that man can live with God and we don’t have to die to experience it, it starts here and now. There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We keep chasing love and yet we run from the kind of love that is above all. Despite the challenging times, our peace lies in knowing we are safe in His arms.
So, this Christmas might be a bit different from what we experienced before. But if our reason to celebrate remains the same, even without the festive gatherings, swarming gifts, bountiful meals, big bonuses, our hearts are filled with joy and peace that transcends all understanding. The birth of our Savior is a demonstration of God’s pursuit of humanity. Having a God who would chase after a sinner like me is enough reason to be grateful. He could have left me in despair and hopelessness, but He didn’t.
If you continue to read the story in the bible, you’ll realize that Christianity is for sinners who acknowledge that apart from God, they are nothing. It is knowing who God is and having a personal relationship with Him. It is a constant surrender to His will and a daily commitment to seek Him, to talk to Him, to listen to Him. His Word will keep us going through all these madness. His promises are the source of strength to face our daily battles. So if you haven’t surrendered your life to the reason of the season, why haven’t you? ;)