Christmas Blues

     As I looked at the faces across our congregation yesterday, I was reminded that “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, can be a pretty tough time for many families. Everywhere I looked I saw families that have been impacted by loss. For many, the loss involves grieving the death of a family member that won’t be part of the Christmas festivities this year. For others, this Christmas will represent the first holiday season that the family navigates a “new-normal”, and begins the healing of the broken hearts of a painful divorce. For still others, the empty plate at the Christmas table represents a family member that serves in the military, or a family member that has entered into a new phase of life.
     A close look into the Christmas story reveals the fact that if there was ever a couple that needed some encouragement, perhaps it was the parents of the Messiah on that first Christmas. In Mary, you have most likely a 14-15 year old girl that was full term, had traveled a long distance, and had just had a baby in a stinky barn with no anesthesia. Not to mention the fact that she wasn’t even married yet and that she had most likely let down her parents and friends. And then there’s Joseph. Everywhere he went he had to explain that this was God’s baby. Yeah right – that’s a likely story.

     How DID God encourage these parents, and how can we also be encouraged through the Christmas story? I mean, where was God anyway when these two were facing this incredibly painful season? We learn at least 3 things about God in this story.

      First, God stands BEHIND you with His PLANS (Isaiah 9:6-7). So the Christmas story gets started for Mary and Joseph in Luke 1:26. But God’s Christmas story got started a LONG time before that. 2000 years earlier in the book of Isaiah which is a book of HOPE in the midst of difficult times we have Isaiah 9:6-7. God’s plan was to have a child that would save all of mankind. So, although Mary and Joseph were caught by surprise, God had been planning on it for thousands of years! Although they didn’t know where this thing was headed, God had the whole thing planned. Although this didn’t go according to their plans, it went EXACTLY according to God’s plan. You can be encouraged by knowing that God was not surprised by what happened in your life this year!

     Second, God stands BESIDE you with His PRESENCE AND HIS PEOPLE (Lk 1:26, Mt. 1:20). God sent an angel to both Mary and Joseph in their lowest moments to encourage them. And He does the same for His children today. He will never leave you nor forsake you. The primary message of Christmas is that God loves you so much that He sent His Presence to enter into your world so that you could one day enter His! And then, God also sends His PEOPLE to stand beside Mary and Joseph in their trying time. At first, it is Elizabeth in Luke 1:39. This older woman encourages Mary in what God is calling her to do. And then God sends shepherds and Wise Men to validate the work of God in their lives. And then when Jesus is dedicated at the temple, God intersects the couple with Simeon and Anna to once again encourage these parents. At every stage, these parents find encouragement in people that God puts in their path. You can also find great encouragement in both His Presence and His people.

     Finally, God stands BEFORE you with His PROMISES! (Lk 1:31-37). The angel comes to Mary and looks into the future and says Mary – 

  • I see the future and you are going to have a baby boy
  • And his name is going to be JESUS
  • He is going to be very powerful and the Son of God
  • And he is going to rule and to reign forever
Although you can’t see it now, this painful process has a purpose. I’m going to use this trying time to bring great glory to God. I have already been to your future and have written the final chapter.

            So, where was God when this couple needed Him the most? He was behind them, beside them, and before them! And you can be encouraged today by knowing that the God of Angel Armies also stands behind, beside, and before you and your family in order to encourage during this Christmas season.