There’s no denying that this year has been harder than usual on people. For a lot of people it has felt, as C.S. Lewis puts it in The Chronicles of Narnia that, “It is always winter but never Christmas.”
C.S. Lewis was from the northern hemisphere where even in the gloom of winter there was something to look forward to – Christmas! This year, wherever people are living in the world, there seems to be a heightened anticipation for Christmas.
I’ve noticed that everywhere I look on the internet, I see people talking about how much they’re hoping this Christmas will take their minds of how difficult this year has been and I agree – Christmas will fix everything but not in the way they think.
The joy of the event
Christmas is a time for joy, a time for gathering with friends and family, for doing kind things for strangers, for the giving and receiving of gifts, and for doing all the special little things that you look forward to because they’re only done at this time of the year. However, it is also about something much greater.
All these things are wonderful but they can only provide a temporary distraction from our troubles, what we need is a solution big enough to permanently solve all our problems. Is such a solution even possible? Yes it is and that is exactly what Christmas is all about.
When Jesus was born over 2000 years ago his birth heralded the rescue and delivery his people had been longing for for hundreds of years. The name ‘Jesus’ literally means ‘to deliver, to rescue’.
The reason Jesus’ birth was such a big deal was because it was the culmination of hundreds and hundreds of years of desperate longing and the final answer to the Israelite people’s suffering but not only that but he would also be a light for all mankind.
The original hope in the midst of hardship
Things have been very tough for people this year, yet it is still probably fair to say that things were even tougher for the Israelite people around the time Jesus was born. Their country had been taken over by the Romans whose greed was only outdone by their violence.
There were many who were working unceasingly yet struggling to even feed their families because of the huge tax burdens placed on them by their Roman overlords and the corrupt temple rulers. Women were always in danger of being kidnapped or raped, and men could be killed for no reason other than to show the power of Rome.
Not only were the Romans their enemies but the corrupt religious leaders made their lives a misery by demanding more and more money from them, burdening them with more rules than God ever intended them to live by.
It is no wonder then that the news of the birth of the Saviour, the one who had come to save and rescue was greeted with such joy by the shepherds (once they got over the shock of seeing the angels!)
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke chapter 2, verses 10-14. (Emphasis added).
The solution we all need
With everything going on this year, it has illuminated the fact that we are not in control. Life is fragile and fleeting. When everything around us crumbles and the security we thought we had falls apart on us it gives us the opportunity to acknowledge that we need something – or someone – beyond ourselves.
The curtain has been drawn back and we see our efforts to control our lives and destiny for what they are– a denial of reality.
Yet the wonderful news in the wake of that is that we don’t have to control our lives and destiny on our own – there is someone much greater and more powerful who has stepped in to save us! To rescue us from sin and suffering and produce eternal hope that goes far beyond the joy of spending time with friends eating food and exchanging gifts!
This year has been hard but the solution for us is the same as it was for those who lived over 2000 years ago – trust in the one who entered into our suffering so that he could rescue us.
Not only from Romans, not only from global pandemics, but from something even worse – our sin and rebellion towards God which leads to death but through Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection has been forgiven so we can spend eternity with him and be free from suffering and grief forever!
Now that is something worth celebrating!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.