"Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"
Joy mingled with sadness. His presence at heaven's expense. Our joy set against the darkness of our pain and humanity. The poignance of Christmas contrasted with the impending pain of the cross. Our HOPE...of all things being restored and renewed in the kingdom which is coming. All things begun and completed in the immensity and timelessness of God's plan.
Christmas is all of that.
Some of us are caught in the darker side of the holiday...the loneliness; the bitterness of family either missing or in dispute; the darkness of depression in a society that makes no room for pain at this time of year; poverty and having to go without buying gifts for those we love; maybe not even having a Christmas dinner (we ourselves are having fish sticks and Rice-a-Roni...I was in the hospital and that's all that's in the house :))
And some of you are in housefulls of family and friends; the scent of cookies and pies filling the air; children laughing and eagerly anticipating the arrival of gifts....
But the two are the same coin; just different sides. I've had years where one side was true and other years where the other was predominant. I've also spent many Christmases in medical and psychiatric hospitals. This year, I am grateful to be home. Grateful for the fish sticks. Glad that tonight I can go to church and see my friends. I could find a lot to be distressed about. Holidays in my family are not your typical happy celebrations. But I find that after the severe distress of holidays past, my expectations have changed, and I am far happier with less.
I was reading a blog about this very topic (http://www.halfwaytonormal.com/?p=547) and on my other blog site, I also wrote about this (http://lunamosity.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/695/). We cannot truly love the light until we have experienced darkness. Joy, unlike happiness which is more brittle and shallow, is forged in the smithy of pain...is more solid and unshakeable. It is not dependent on our circumstances but depends on the goodness and faithfulness of God--which never changes regardless of where in life we find ourselves.
So, where ever you are today, physically, circumstantially, emotionally; regardless of the challenges you may be facing, I pray that you will taste that joy. That you will rejoice, not because you are getting gifts or being with family....but because of WHOM you know God to be and of WHAT He is. I pray that if you are in pain, you will rejoice because you know that it is temporary and that He is Eternal. If you are happy, I pray that you will hold it lightly, and cling to the more substantial thing of Grace.
Blessings to you this Christmas...and forevermore!