Everyone knows by now that I absolutely love Christmas. I love everything about it. The lights, the gifts, the cold, the hymns, and I even like the plump, jolly old dude in the red suit. I have watched the same Christmas movies for years and still love to watch them. In fact, I watch the “Grinch that stole Christmas” all year long. Still, I know that for some people it is a sad time of year because they have lost a loved one, and so the Christmas season is not the same.
I’m not going to preach to you as one who doesn’t know what you’re going through. I lost my mother on December 9th 3 years ago. Her birthday was Sunday. I know what it’s like to long to see them. My little brother died a little over 5 years ago, and I miss him like crazy. I don’t say this in an effort to make you feel sorry for me. The last thing I want you to do is to feel sorry for me. I tell this testimony only in an effort to win a hearing with you. I know that some of you have lost husbands, wives, and children, and I would never say that I understand what you are going through, because I don’t. I do know what it feels like to lose someone, however, and I still believe that you can enjoy the Christmas season, even more than those who have not suffered loss.
That may sound crazy to you, but I am convinced that it’s true. I think that many of us spend Christmas in the dumps because we let our hearts forget what Christmas is all about. I’m not saying you’re guilty of this, but I have noticed this sin in my own life. Only after I have recognized this sin and repented of it was I able to change the way I go through the Christmas season.
The sin I’m referring to is thinking that Christmas is all about getting together with family, thinking it is about Christmas dinner, thinking it is about buying and opening gifts, thinking it is about anything other than the celebration of the birth of Him who put an end to death. Christmas is all about Jesus. It is not a time for sadness, especially for those who have loved ones who have died. If you’ve lost a loved one, then if anyone should be celebrating Christmas for what it really is, it is you. Jesus told Martha, who had just lost her brother, “Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me, though he is dead yet shall he live.” Then he asked her a staggering question, a question that your Christmas joy is tied up in. Jesus asks Martha (and he asks you), “Do you believe this Martha? Put your name in there. Do you believe this _________? If you can answer yes to that question, then why would Christmas not be exciting? How could it not be joyful?!
I miss my mother. I miss my brother. I miss my paw-paw. However, all of these dear family members are with Him who saved them by His grace. I can only imagine what it must have been like the day they first laid eyes on him. I just asked Cade that question today in my office. We were discussing our sermons for this week, and I was contemplating Jesus suffering under the holy, righteous, wrath of God the Father. Then my affections were stirred toward Christ in such a way I can’t explain. To think that we can’t even begin to understand what the Father and the Son went through to pay the penalty of our sins. Jesus went through pain and suffering unlike anything that we can imagine. As I was meditating on what I said to Cade, I was struck by the question, “can you imagine what it’s going to be like to finally see Him face to face.” To behold the holes in his hands and feet, to see the scars where the stripes were laid that set me free, to fall down like my sister Mary and kiss his feet, are things that I can’t wait to do. My point is this, your loved ones who believed the gospel and have died are there now with Him. They are happier there with Christ than they were, or ever would be, here on this earth. Do you believe this?
If you do believe, then you have more reason than anyone to celebrate the birth of Him who was crushed for our iniquities. Let the truth of Christmas penetrate deep into your heart. Instead of focusing on a Christmas tree adorned with lights, focus on the cross which was soaked with His blood. Instead of focusing on your loved ones that died, focus on Him who after dying and being placed in a tomb was raised up from the grave. Let His words to Mary flood your soul. “Though you are dead yet shall you live.” Do you believe this? For unto us is born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.