Light For The Dark Side of Christmas
by Jon Walker

Watch for this: A girl who is presently a virgin will get pregnant. She'll bear a son and name him Immanuel (God-With-Us). (Isaiah 7:14b, MSG)

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As I write this, I am sitting in a fast food restaurant and over there … see her there, pretty in pink … this young girl, maybe five-years-old, is celebrating an early Christmas with her mother. Her presents are spread out across the booth and … listen … she just said, "I miss you, Mommy."

"I miss you too, baby," her mother says.

My eyes move beyond their booth, and I see a woman casually, but carefully, watching them. Trained as a journalist to observe, I put it all together: The watching woman is a social worker, and she is supervising a structured visit for mother and child, who are doing the best they can to celebrate Christmas in the booth of a fast food restaurant. A few minutes later, the foster parents arrive to take the girl home with them while the mother leaves alone.

There is a darker side of Christmas that we rarely acknowledge. We create this fantasy of the perfect homecoming that rarely matches reality – even in the best of homes. There are many of us whose Christmas memories are full of tension, not tinsel.

Some of us know that the holidays are just another excuse for Mommy to get drunk or for Daddy to be with his new family. It's a reminder that the one we love the most is far away – perhaps never coming back – or the relative we love the least will be placing his hands somewhere they shouldn't be.

Would it surprise you to know that the suicide rate is extraordinarily high in December, and that depression is as common as joy to the world? I suspect there are far more people who hurt at Christmas than we would initially imagine. They find misery in mistletoe, and they have a sneaking suspicion that "ornament" is rooted in the word "ornery."

For those tired of the hollow hope and the false fantasies of Christmas, the Good News is that God is with us. A virgin gives birth to a son, and his name is Immanuel (God-With-Us). (Isaiah 7:14)

What does this mean?

· Trust the baby in the manager – The babe in the manger came to give you good news, and it's not the kind of good news that will dissipate tomorrow when the bad news arrives. You may be just hanging on by a thread, and you may not be able to see it yet, but the HOPE is here.

· Trust the baby born in heartbreaking conditions – That baby in the manger came to heal your broken heart. You may be bleeding inside, and for you Christmas is just another reminder of what might have been – "if only." Jesus will heal your broken heart. You may not be able to feel it yet, but the HOPE is here. Trust the baby born in smelly, unsanitary, heartbreaking conditions.

· Trust the baby who grew to be a man of sorrow – He became a man acquainted with sorrow. He knew the true condition of the human heart. The baby in the manger came to help you make the right decisions. You may be so captive to drugs, alcohol, or pornography that you don't even know how you can get help –if you're even able to figure out that you need help. You may be in so much bondage that you can't even see it, but the HOPE is here. Trust the baby, who did not stay in the manger, but grew to be a man facing difficult choices.

· Trust the baby who teaches us to live above our circumstances – That baby in the manger will help you live above your circumstances. You no longer have to be prisoner to the "what ifs" of life – what if I had a better job, what if I had a better marriage, what if I had a better life? I know it's hard to see past the prison walls, but the HOPE is here. Trust the baby in the manger, whose circumstances led him from a poor beginning to a violent execution.

· Trust the baby who brings us a hope-filled Christmas – Bring him the ashes of your life and he'll give you beauty; bring him the mourning in your life, and he'll give you joy.

© 2007 Jon Walker. All rights reserved.

Devocionales Cristianos


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