What’s your idea of the perfect Christmas? Many of us have images in our minds of what the ideal Yuletide should look like.
It usually involves a spectacular Christmas tree with enticing gifts piled beneath it. The house would be decorated with pine boughs and red bows inside, and the exterior decked out with lights. The day itself would feature a scrumptious dinner with all the fixings, and numerous home-baked desserts. Top it all off with a house full of family, friends and laughter.
There’s only one problem with this picture.
It’s awfully hard to live up to.
Perhaps you were laid off from your job just before Christmas. Or maybe you’re employed, but things are still really tight financially. You just can’t provide all the gifts that your children have been asking for, and you know they might be disappointed.
Or maybe someone in your family is going through a health crisis. It looks serious, and you’re all under a lot of stress as a result. It might be hard to feel “merry” this Christmas.
It could be that you have some fractured or broken relationships in your life. Maybe things are very tense with a certain family member. Or perhaps you’ve lost someone dear to you, and this will be the first Christmas without them. The holidays might be a lonely time for you.
There are a lot of reasons why the Christmas season might fall short of what we want it to be.
But when you think about it, the first Christmas was fraught with struggles, too. Mary and Joseph certainly didn’t have it easy.
First of all, they had to pack up and make the journey to Joseph’s hometown, right when Mary was heavily pregnant. Not the ideal time to have to travel.
Secondly, this was hardly a vacation trip. The reason they had to go to Bethlehem was to be registered by the government. Why? So that they could be taxed, of all things.
Thirdly, when Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem, all the hotels and Airbnb’s were already booked solid. There was nowhere for them to stay, so they ended up sleeping in a stable with the animals.
Fourthly, Joseph and Mary will have endured some gossip when they reached his hometown. People knew they weren’t married, only betrothed. And yet here was Mary in her ninth month of pregnancy, and she was claiming that the baby’s father was the Holy Spirit. No doubt some people thought, “Yeah, right.”
Fifthly, Mary knew the time to deliver her child was very near. Most women would probably want some family around to help her through the process of giving birth to her first child. Perhaps Mary would have liked her mother to be there, or another female relative who’d given birth herself. But no one was there to help Mary but her fiancé Joseph.
It doesn’t seem to add up to the “perfect” Christmas, does it?
And yet somehow it was.
God was there with Mary and Joseph the whole way. A miracle was birthed through them. The Son of God came to earth via this humble couple, the Promised One who would save people from their sins.
Whatever you’re going through this Christmas, know that God is available to you, too. Psalm 145:18a says that, “The Lord is near to all who call upon him.”
He’s someone you can lean on and rely upon: “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1). And through His Son Jesus He provides salvation: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).
He can not only save you, He can birth a miracle in your situation, too. He can touch your life where you need it the most. He can bring healing, comfort, provision, and can restore relationships. Most importantly, He provides His presence and His love.
When you have the most important thing, Jesus, Christmas doesn’t have to be “perfect” to still be awesome.
© 2019 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.