At work, we often get to interview people who’ve done remarkable things or who are deserving of something really special. Last week I got chatting to a lady who lost her baby daughter earlier this year, to a hideous, awful illness called Edwards Syndrome. Her daughter lived for just 90 days.
Despite having to care for a dying baby, she still found time to care for the people around her, look after friends, watch out for others and even when we were chatting, she kept thanking me for taking the time to ring her. We were both a bit choked up as she told me about her daughter’s life and how she and her husband were not yet sure what they would do for Christmas. She said, ‘We know she’s in a lovely place now, but Christmas for us will feel strange, because it feels like she should be here with us. Someone very special is missing’.
If you’re not in a good place, Christmas can feel like an assault. I know, because I’ve had holidays in the past, where I just wanted to curl into a dark, non-Christmassy corner and wake up when it was over. For some people, it feels like this every year. There will always be an empty seat or a reminder that in reality, the Christmassy adverts very rarely reflect the truth. For others, they’re on their own (and don’t want to be) or are surrounded by bickering, and wish they were on their own.
This one feels a million times different – but I can’t forget/ignore that there’s a world of sadness around me, colleagues who’ve recently lost parents, friends who are facing job losses or uncertain medical test results…not to forget the survivors and victims’ families of a life-altering storms or wars.
It IS the most wonderful time of the year, but for many, it can also be the most horrendous time of the year.
Every year there’s also lots of talk about how Christmas has lost its real meaning. I’ll not debate the ifs and buts of that, but I DO know that Christmas, in hopeless times, is a lot easier if the focus is on Jesus.
Mince pies, tree, tinsel, prezzies, family meals, cheezy movies are all the fun rituals, but those things can’t fix broken marriages or bring someone back to life.
But the extraordinary birth and life of Jesus, is about nothing but pure, excitable, exploding, faithful hope. His birth is the beginning of fresh starts, of new life, of broken things being fixed, of the possibility that nothing is impossible.
His birth is the knowledge that even if this year seems bleak, pointless and hopeless, next year could be very, very different.
His birth is the security that even in the absolute worst of circumstances, it IS still possible to have hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)