"who can have enjoyment?"
Well, Christmas is over now. But you'd never know it from my house. All the decorations are still up; the tree, the lights on the house, the whole shebang. Years ago, I used to spend January 1 taking down Christmas; wrapping up ornaments and carefully putting strings of lights back into their original packaging. It was a such a pleasant and productive way to spend the day, with the Rose Parade, and Bowl Games on in the background.
But for some reason, the past few years, I have been in less of a hurry to take down Christmas. I know this year it's partially because we were gone for a week, so we had a week less to enjoy our decked halls. So I think while I'm unpacking and doing laundry and cleaning the science projects out of the fridge, I'll just keep celebrating the season awhile longer.
And yes, I'm listening to Christmas music ;)
But for every person who is trying to prolong the holidays a little, there are probably several people who are glad they are over. The end-of-the-year/beginning-of-the-next-year season is difficult for some people. Maybe it's because they're lonely. Maybe it's because they are reminded of their financial struggles more than the rest of the year. Maybe they're going through a divorce, or missing an estranged child.
This past Christmas, there were many in America whose thoughts were with the families of Newtown, Connecticut. I also know a few friends who are celebrating their first Christmas after the death of a loved one. It can be difficult to begin a new year, looking ahead at 2013 looming endlessly, not knowing how you're going to manage without that person you loved.
We think of Christmas as a time of joy and happiness. But this year, as I was singing songs about Jesus coming to earth, and the world celebrating the night of His birth... all of a sudden, I wondered: what was God thinking that night? How did He feel?
We celebrate Jesus' birth because of what it means to us. He is our Savior, our Redeemer, our Deliverer. Our faith in Him will lead us to heaven. Our acceptance of Jesus as Lord means the promise of peace in our hearts, no matter our circumstances, and it means the promise of eternal life with Him.
It means the forgiveness of our sins.
His birth does not grant us forgiveness, however. We are not cleansed and righteous just because of that night in Bethlehem. That was only the beginning. Jesus was to spend 33 years walking on this earth, leading and teaching and loving. And then He had to die.
Turn to one of the gospels, and read the passage about Jesus' death on the cross. (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19). You will not read about angels singing or shepherds rejoicing. You will read about the sun being darkened, the earth quaking and rocks splitting. That's not joy.
So in my mind, while I was thinking about those who were having trouble celebrating this Christmas, I thought of God. I imagined Him thinking of all that was to come, and I thought, maybe that night was difficult for Him.
I know that His sacrifice was necessary; His death was necessary. And to die for us, He had to be born for us. God knew all that. But still, I imagine it was bittersweet for Him to send His Son, whom He loved, to die for us, whom He loves.
As I say, I don't know what's in God's mind. I'm just thinking out loud here. Well, in print. But it gave me a comforting, reassuring feeling to know that God understands us. That when the world tells you that you should be celebrating, and yet your heart is holding back a little, it's okay.
If that's you, I hope you know you can rest in Him.
~ "the Lord searches all hearts
and understands all the intent of the thoughts.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you" ~
1 Chronicles 28:9