I remember the first year I stopped believing in Santa Clause. I was much older than most of my peers; not because the signs were not there but because I just didn’t want to give it up. In ways, it felt like Santa Clause represented an innocence that I could never get back; a sort of mystical virginity if you will. I felt like once I said, “Okay, okay. I don’t believe anymore.” – the magic would be gone forever. I remember the day my sister sat me down (I honestly might have been a six grader) and told me it was time. She took me to my parents’ closet, where many gifts were hidden. The next morning, I superficially said, “Thank you, Santa!” as I looked at every single present I had seen the day before. It was over.
Ever since we have had our girls, I have experienced the same emotions I felt the day I stopped believing in Santa on Christmas. Those of you who have lost a loved one or whose expectations for your family look differently than you anticipated know exactly what I’m talking about. The traditions might be the same, yet there is a magnifying glass on the fact that nothing is ever going to look like I thought it would look ever again. For people who have typically developing children, the opposite is true. You are able, if you choose, to go back to the Santa days as you vicariously watch your children experience the wonder of Christmas for the first time. While I love seeing our friends and family go through this process, if I’m honest, it stings a bit.
This morning, I looked back at a post I had written a year ago. I almost re-posted it, simply because some of the thoughts still ring true today, but again, authentically, I was saddened at how much more weary I feel a year later. I began praying for refreshment and asking God if every year was going to get more and more challenging; if each Christmas from now I was going to be more keenly aware of the reality that this world is not our home. Don’t miss the truth that while this is technically a good thing, the human inside of me would love to spend one Christmas blissfully unaware of that fact.
“The thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices; for yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.”
The weary world rejoices.
I get it, God.
Friends, you have heard it a million times. We all say it over and over again, as if saying it one more time will make it any more true in our hearts.
Jesus is the reason for the season.
But what does that mean?
Today, for me, that means that what I am celebrating tomorrow is the fact that God came down, still fully God, now fully man, in the form of a baby in a manger, so that all wrongs could be made right. It means that every single bad thought, impure motive, sketchy action, or shameful deed I have done both in the past, present, and future, when given to Jesus, is gone. It means that because of this scene in Bethlehem, the greater glory of Calvary and even more glorious beauty of the resurrection and, alas, the holiest of holiest of holy moments of His second coming will occur. This changes everything. You see, His birth had to happen for the rest of the story to play out. And, the rest of the story tells me that one day, anti-seizure medications will be throne straight to hell because seizures will be no more. There will be no more mysteries in our girls’ health, for they will be made perfectly whole. I won’t have to spend any more days fighting for joy and fighting to believe in what I know to be true in my spirit but can’t get my flesh to understand. I won’t wonder if we need to go to the Emergency Room on Christmas Eve Eve because of some unexplainable low and high temperature changes in both Ally and Bailey Grace. I won’t have to fight disappointment of timing and expectations and circumstances ever again. You see, because of Christ, today, it is well with my soul and one day, it will be well completely and perfectly and wholly. Friend, I don’t know where your heart is at this Christmas Eve. I know that many of you are walking through unimaginable pains. You are in the hospital. Your child is in the hospital. Your loved one has already left this earth or is on the verge of it. A tornado just ravished through your neighborhood and took everything you own. Cancer has reared its ugly head yet again and you are just not sure you are up for the fight again. You are completely alone and find yourself staring at social media watching everyone else make memories making your heart feel even lonelier. I don’t know exactly, but may I remind you on this Christmas Eve that Jesus-Immanuel- its meaning is exactly this: God is with us. He is with you. And- while the culture around us may tell you that tomorrow is about presents and people and food and merriment- I would like to say that for those of us who are weary- we should be celebrating all the more. He came for the weary. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick (Mark 2:17). The thrill of Hope, the weary world rejoices…
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
May we rejoice in the truth that He is making all things new. May we celebrate- truly celebrate- His birth; knowing that its reality means everything for those of us who mourn or grieve or hurt or suffer; for the One whose name is Immanuel, God with us, is the same One who cried out, “It is finished”.
Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift!- 2 Corinthians 9:15