Hope for the Holidays

The holiday season in a time of loss can be overwhelming and distressing. For us, it is a reminder that we are not excitedly buying little gifts for our expected child, or feeling him or her kick, or giving him a name. For others, it might be the noticeable absence of a beloved spouse, a child you knew and loved, or a parent. Holidays have a way of bringing the sting of loss to the surface in real and excruciating ways. It’s easy to feel forgotten, to doubt God’s care and concern for you. You might feel passed over for blessing this Christmas time. I know I have felt that way in recent days.

I’m sure Hannah felt that way, too. Every year was a sad reminder that she was barren and her rival was not. Year after year she watched her bring children into the world, while Hannah’s womb stayed empty. In his perfect timing, God opened Hannah’s barren womb. She was given the child she longed for.

Does hoping in the God of the Bible mean we get all that we long for? No, it doesn’t. But I wonder if God gives us these stories in the Bible to show us that he doesn’t forget us—even in our darkest moments. Hebrews 11 tells us that some will shut the mouths of lions and some will be sawn in two. Some of us will live seemingly “abundant” earthly lives, while others will flounder in suffering. Both cases are exactly God’s design—the race he has set before us. While the Bible doesn’t give us any indication that our lives, or holiday season, will be made any merrier with a lightening of circumstances, it does tell us that we have reason to hope, even at Christmas time.

You see, this baby we celebrate wasn’t born into flowery circumstances. He was born into suffering and sorrow, all so we could have a great Savior who understands our suffering and sorrow and promises to walk with us through it (Heb. 4:14-16). We can know that God hasn’t left us at Christmas for the very reason we celebrate—God sent his Son to earth for us. And not only did he send his Son, but he sent his Son to die. Christmas is about the coming suffering of the Savior and the great loss the Father would experience when he momentarily turned his face away from his Son on the Cross. All so that sorrowful Christians, like you and me, could know that God loves us.

The clouds might be heavy and weighing down, and God is behind every dark cloud that hovers. He is Immanuel, God with us—with us when we are happy and with us when we are sad. We are not passed over this Christmas, or any day of the year.