While the Christmas season is a time full of joy and celebration, the world is not exempt from sorrow during this season. For many of us, our hurting hearts experience intensified ache as memories flood our minds. Perhaps the memory is of a loved one who has gone ahead of us. Maybe the memory haunts as part of a painful past; something we wish could be changed or undone. Pain not only exists from the past, but in the daily present. Discouragement doesn’t stop lurking. Disease doesn’t stop waging its war. Death doesn’t pause for a few days.

When Jesus’ birth was announced or Mary knew that she was pregnant and Joseph was broken the news, his would be parents didn’t plan a baby shower, or a gender reveal party. Then when Joseph said they had to make a business trip for tax purposes, it was probably the last thing on Mary’s agenda. Just imagine making that trip of many miles riding a donkey in her ninth month of pregnancy, it would in no way have been the most comfortable mode of transport. Then they arrive in Bethlehem to discover to their dismay that all rooms of all the guest houses are occupied and the only shelter offered is an animal shelter and trough as a cot.

Not only the personal circumstances of Joseph and Mary but the situation of the people of Israel too was far from ideal. They were a people under the subjugation and political domination of Rome. They were voiceless and powerless. Religiously, the temple was a place of corruption and malpractice. The last prophet that served Israel – Micah was almost 400 years prior to this. There was a deafening silence to God’s voice and direction.

The point is that the arrival of Jesus at that time and the ‘joy’ of His birth to his parents were by no means in the most ideal of circumstances.

As we enter the season against the backdrop of the Covid19 pandemic, we may have similar sentiments and feelings of disconnectedness, inappropriateness, confusion, frustration, disappointment and a variety of negative emtions. We all endure hard times; it’s a fact. And we’ll all witness suffering by those we care about. Christ himself told us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 NIV He is our greatest comfort during times of struggle, and He equips us to help others in their sorrow as well.

No matter what is causing your hurt, allow yourself the opportunity to recognize the struggle you feel during the holiday season. Think also of your friends or family who may benefit from words of encouragement for hard times. Rather than walk through this suffering alone, lets together hang on to the hope that Jesus gives as He walks through this valley with us. Christmas is a reminder that God has not left us alone in the darkness. No matter the ache or the longing, the sorrow or the suffering, the birth of Jesus brought hope and healing to the entire world. For this, we can and let us celebrate with JOY! (beyond circumstances). The Light of the World made His grand entrance as an infant. The Son of God in human flesh, and the glory of the night could not be contained. Angels sang their glory to God and hope, true Hope for the world was born!

Christmas is a time of hope! Christmas is about revisiting or renewing the notion of hope that the Light comes again and again into the darkness of the world. Regardless of the trials you or those around you face during the Christmas season, the gift we all need the most is the presence of the One who promises to be the one constant of life. Despite the tough circumstances we are facing, to know that God’s plan is the best plan for our life; He loves us too much to think anything otherwise. “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17  

Roshan Mendis APBAID – Director