What happens when Christmas isn't magical?
What if you're heartbroken or frustrated, and “Merry” just isn't a part of Christmas this year?
Maybe your prayer list is packed with friends and family who are battling illnesses or have endured tragic accidents. You've been to one too many funerals or hugged too many friends who have lost a loved one.
Perhaps you've hit hard times financially, and the tree isn't as full with presents as you hoped.
Or, maybe it's just one of those seasons in life where everything you touch seems to fall apart.
Whatever your struggle, this year Christmas is heavy and darker than you feel it should be.
Regardless of the time of year, any struggle with cancer, illness, loss, or insecurity hurts badly.
And if you encounter it long enough, at some point that age old question surfaces in your mind:
“Why? Why does this have to happen? To them? To me?”
We struggle to rationalize a loving, all knowing God with the suffering around you.
Scripture points us to an answer:
We live in a broken world.
It simply does not function the way that it was designed to function.
It is not what it was intended to be.
The difference between our souls and the rest of creation is that creation is still waiting on redemption. In fact, Romans 8:22 says that “all creation has been groaning together as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
The world is broken and groaning.
And we must live in it until Christ returns or He takes us home.
Sometimes that brokenness shows up in a frustrating conversation that hurts your feelings. Sometimes it shows up as a fender bender in traffic on a cold, rainy night.
Sometimes it shows up as cancer or illness.
But the brokenness shows up.
That's why we desperately need a Good Shepherd – to help us navigate this broken world.
If we are believers, we are his sheep. But that does not exempt us from living in a world that is dangerous, broken, and not yet redeemed.
And that's what Christmas is about after all:
Our Good Shepherd showing up, calling and securing His lost sheep into His flock, and preparing a way home.
God came to earth.
In the midst of a people waiting through pain and suffering.
What was promised, was finally fulfilled...thousands of years later.
It doesn't mean that we won't travel rough terrain or endure some dark valleys along the way.
But it does mean that we have Someone who's gone before us to lay out our path, who will comfort us with his rod when we start to panic, and is faithful to provide us with what we need just as we need it along the way.
He has gone to great lengths and great expense to call us His own.
We are far too expensive to not care for, protect, or be loved.
He came for YOU first, He'll take care of the creation later.
YOU were top priority.
May we not blame our Shepherd when we stumble over the brush, when we become afraid by strange noises in the dark, or when we feel confused because we've lost our way.
May those painful moments and fears cause us to run towards our Good Shepherd, not away.
Because just as He has redeemed our souls, He will redeem the world.
One day everything will work as it was designed to from the beginning.
One day all things will be made new.
Hallelujah and Merry Christmas.