“It’s Christmas! You should rejoice!” The presence of family, presents under the Christmas tree, rocking around to different versions of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” should encourage everyone to celebrate!
Christmas, a time to rejoice with lights and perfections, can also be one of the darkest times of the year. A close family member—parent, spouse, sibling— may have passed away during this time, and that loss is particularly painful during the Christmas season. There are many alone, homeless, ill. They endure this festive time coupled with their intense, personal privations. For many, Christmas should be a time of great celebration. This pressure adds to their pain.
Christmas has been both a dark time and a bright time for me, too. Some years, there was nothing but joy and victory to ponder from the previous months. Sometimes, it seemed like there was nothing to celebrate.
In the world today, it seems that the shadow of death is not just overcast, but cannot be overcome. Despite victories here and there on the life and liberty front, the forces of evil march on:
- In Indonesia, a brutal tsunami wiped out hundreds of lives just three days before Christmas. This is not the first time in recent memory that a horrific tsunami wreaked such havoc during the Christmas season.
- Throughout the world, younger generations are determined to embrace socialism, the very corrosive cultural, economic, and political cult which the Greatest Generation had defeated during World War II. Millennials and even post-Millennials know nothing about the Freedom Trio of Reagan, Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II who defeated Communism, and thus ended the Cold War in 1989. Incidentally, the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist on Christmas Day, 1991. Sadly, the Specter of Communism has not be consigned to the ash heap of history after all.
- In the so-called Free World of the West, freedoms of speech, assembly, and religions face untold hardships. Tommy Robinson of Great Britain reported the truth about Islam, and he was shut away in a prison for months. Bill Whatcott of Canada endures untold criminal indictments just for preaching the Gospel, and his government is more committed to political correctness than moral uprightness to this day. Aaron and Melissa Klein of Oregon, Jack Philipps of Colorado, and others face civil penalties or unrelenting legal action because they refuse to endorse the LGBT Agenda in their private businesses.
- Americans have forgotten the sacrifices which helped bring down the Berlin Wall. At the same time, politicians in Washington DC refuse to build a wall along the United States’ Southern Border to secure our country and legacy.
- As of this writing, the stock market is facing an unprecedented downturn. Wealth creation is turning into wealth evaporation for those who bet big on a strong stock market.
- The very businessmen and corporations which benefited from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 are using their unprecedented wealth to undermine the very country which made wealth creation possible and essential to its character of free enterprise.
- For three years in a row, the opioid crisis and addiction epidemic has cut the average lifespan of Americans. The reason? Many have lost the reason to live, and not just for a season.
It’s a dark time right now.
Despite these tragedies, all of us need to remember what—or rather Who—this season celebrates.
Christmas is about the Light of the World (John 8:12) who came into this darkness. It’s not about pretending there is no darkness, but about remembering that the world has a Savior to rescue and protect us in the midst of the darkness.
The prophet Isaiah declared:
“The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.” (Isaiah 9:2)
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
There are so many walking, stumbling in a dark world right now.
But notice that phrase “in the land of the shadow of death.” It reminds us of the beloved 23rd Psalm: “Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
Jesus, the Savior of the World, is also called “Immanuel” which means “God with us”. From the beginning, he entered into darkness, relieving and comforting us in dark places. His birth came at a bleak time, more foreboding than our own. Ruthless Caesars in Rome could force a world-wide census upon numerous conquered peoples. There were no rights for all, but ultimately privileges for “citizens of Rome.” Entertainment was a fatuous bloodsport of slaves butchering each other before mindless crowds.
And yet, in a tiny manger in a forlorn stable in an overlooked city, Christ the Savior was born. The Light of the World came into a world that had no hope, no peace.
This Light guides the souls of millions today, and they are not overcome by darkness:
- Chinese Christians are fighting back despite Communist regime crackdowns.
- From West Hollywood to Boston, Massachusetts, evangelical churches are sprouting up across the United States.
- Iranians are converting to Christianity in unprecedented numbers, in spite of persecution in their home country.
This Christmas, we may live in a dark world gone darker, but the darkness does not have to overcome us. This Christmas season, ignore the surrounding chaos and enjoy the Light, just as the Israelites in Exodus weathered the plagues, then enjoyed divine light in their homes (Exodus 10:23). Let us rest and receive the true reason for the season, the Light and Savior of the World, God who became a man, the baby born to die that man could be set free from sin and enjoy life eternally.