If This Christmas Isn’t What You Expected

Your girlfriend grabs your hand, pulls you aside, and starts crying softly. You know what’s coming next. With tears in her eyes, she whispers, “I think we need to break up.”

Your mom silently eats her dinner across from you in the cold apartment. The only audible sound is the ticking of the clock behind you. Your mom finally speaks up to say, “Your dad called me today. He’s getting remarried, and he wants you to go to the wedding next week.”

Sitting at your grandmother’s bedside, you lean in as she kisses the top of your forehead. “You know how much I love you, don’t you?” she says weakly, coughing. “Well, you need to know that it’s time for me to go home now.”

The smell of exhaust fills the room, and the auto mechanic walks over to you. Recently unemployed due to a layoff, you’re hesitant to ask the price of the new engine. The mechanic says slowly, “It’s probably going to cost about $5000 to replace…”

Fictious Scenarios. Real Heartache.

Those above scenarios are just fictional, but maybe they feel familiar to you. You could be facing a variety of different negative surprises this Christmas—a breakup, difficult family situation, death of a loved one, financial burden, medical issue, church dispute, challenging move, betrayal by a friend, doubts and depression, or tension at school.

So. Christmas isn’t what you expected this year. Instead of feeling happy, you feel unexpectedly upset. Instead of focusing on “normal” Christmas things, like buying presets and decorating the tree, all you want to do is cry or be alone.

How could this happen? Why did this have to happen now?

Christmas Is—and Was—This Way

You’re not the only one facing a challenge at Christmas. From the time Jesus entered the world—and even before that—it was against Him. Perhaps your Christmas feels suddenly chaotic and depressing. Jesus’ first Christmas was, too.

Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary, which means she likely faced hostility for being pregnant with Him. No one made room for Mary and Joseph to stay, so He had to be born in a stable. After He was born, His parents had to flee with Him to Egypt because Herod tried to kill Him.   

Jesus could have been born to an already-married couple with a perfect family situation. He could have been born in a beautiful home instead of an animal stable. He could have had a safe early childhood, free from any harm. Instead, God let Jesus enter our humanness. Our brokenness. Our pain.

And, as Jesus grew older, He didn’t abandon the broken world to live a perfect life. Instead, He continued to live a broken life. Though He did not sin, He frequently engaged with people who did. He didn’t hide from the world. Instead, He sought it.

Christmas Is Not the End

Maybe you feel like Christmas wasn’t supposed to be this way. Maybe Christmas was supposed to be like the final scene of It’s a Wonderful Life—with you surrounded by family, friends, and oodles of money. But instead, you feel abandoned and heartbroken.

Take heart, dear friend. Our Christmases on this earth are not the end of the story.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18 ESV)

Christmas is not the end of Christ’s story, and it is not the end of ours, either. Although Christmas is a very significant holiday, it’s still part of this broken world. However, because Christ chose to enter a heartbroken world—and because He died to save it—we can experience healing in heaven with Him.

I know your Christmas may be unexpectedly difficult this year. It’s hard to celebrate something so wonderful when you’re feeling so upset. But He can carry that burden. He already carried your sin by sacrificing His life on the cross. Without Christmas, He wouldn’t have entered our fallen world and saved us from that fallenness.

I hope you let that truth sink in. I also hope you have a merry Christmas!   

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