By Randy Lee
- a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.
Everyday, ironies surround us out of the mundane and unremarkable events of our lives. As Christians living in this earthly realm, we must remain vigilant to remember that this world is not our home. Our lives are for a far greater calling than what we see and feel around us on a daily basis.
During a recent office visit to our dentist, the receptionist asked my daughter, “Do you have your Christmas tree up yet? When she said, “No.” the receptionist responded, “Oh, so you don’t celebrate Christmas?” Later that same week, our music teacher was leaving our home when she made the comment, “Oh, I see you don’t have a Christmas tree. You don’t celebrate Christmas?”
Those two incidents once again highlight the world’s view of this holiday season and once again contrast the stark reality of how we approach this holiday season from two very different points of view.
Behind the facade of Christmas, people are hurting and desperate for a sense of belonging and happiness. Christmas can be one of the loneliest and most depressing times of the year. In two weeks, people around the world will experience the trappings of the season: festive decorations, brightly wrapped presents, shiny lights, cheerful songs, “Christmasy” sweaters, and of course, Santa Claus. When the bright lights are taken down, the ornaments reboxed, the hurt and pain and emptiness return. Our life’s disappointments can’t be celebrated away with tradition and outward things of this world. The irony is that some of the happiest people I know have surrendered their hurt, pains, and disappointments to the Lord!
Our neighbor across the street has a tradition. He spends hours putting up lights around his home and sets up a projector in the front of his yard that send a revolving beam of green and red lights cascading on his house. Inside, is he celebrating the birth of Jesus? To be honest, I don’t really know.
The other night, a buddy and I were sitting outside in front of the firepit in the backyard watching the flames dance against the darkness of the night. We talked about our lives and how we all share similar hurts that accompany life here on earth. As we shared, he reminded me of something very central to our Christian experiences. He said, “We need to embrace our pains, whether emotional or physical, because they are the refining fires of the Lord.” What we see and experience as pain now, can be redeemed for some greater purpose in the future. With God’s help and the fellowship of those close to us, our pain moves us to have compassion for others, and it can help us grow spiritually and emotionally.
This Christmas, my hope and prayer for us all is that we will remember the Hope that we all have access to…through the birth of Christ Jesus in the manger. It was He, who experienced unfathomable pain and suffering on our behalf so that we might live with Him now and on into eternity. Enjoy this season of celebration, but let us carry this blessed Hope with us throughout the year till we see Him returning in a cloud for His faithful ones. The pains of this present life are not to be overlooked during this season of celebration. The irony is that when we recognize our pain as more than just pain, we hold the key to the true prize which is freedom, from our past hurts and praise for the One who planned a way out for us.
So, whether you have a tree or not, know that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus, our Lord and Savior! I bless you to have a Merry Christmas knowing that because of our human frailties and those around us, we can have a blessed life! Yes, many of us are hurting this Christmas. Let’s not do it alone anymore! Gather together with those that you can trust and reflect upon the goodness of God. Allow Him to take you to places of peace and joy that you’d never thought were possible. Let’s keep an open dialogue with God and encourage each other in both our pains and our joys. He knows our struggles and His heart for you and me is always for good and perfect things.