I hear Christmas songs playing in the coffee shop, retail store, brewery, and tire shop. Everywhere I go. I’m not complaining—I love hearing them. But recently I’ve been struck by how sad some of them are. Some of the most timeless lyrics speak to the loneliness and sadness this time of year brings to the surface. See if these ring a jingle bell.
“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow,”
Bing Crosby singing… “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams” And let’s not forget the king of rock and roll singing the blues in his holiday tune, “Blue Christmas.”
For many of us, the Christmas season is incredibly difficult. Maybe it’s the first holiday without a loved one, or maybe that relationship that had so much promise just fell apart. Maybe it’s the reality that this year didn’t go anything like what we had planned. Sadness and discouragement seem to abound. Many of us try to muddle through, put a smile on our faces and get to January 1. The problem with that strategy? It only pushes back dealing with our sadness. We know this, but what are we to do?
“Maybe it’s the first holiday without a loved one, or maybe that relationship that had so much promise just fell apart.”
The Bible is full of promises, including to get us through difficult times. In John 16:33, Jesus promises something that most of us would rather forego. “In this world you will have trouble.” Deep down, we know it’s true, but wish it weren’t. We see it daily as we navigate this broken world. Our boss reminds us of it. The DMV reminds us of it. The neighbors remind us of it.
Listen to the Words
The lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, could have been written today rather than in the 1800s.
“And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
It would be one thing if John 16:33 ended with Jesus saying we’d have trouble in this world. But we serve a loving and gracious God. It’s not the end of the story. Yes, this world can be difficult, lonely and sad. But Jesus’ finished work on the cross prevented the darkness from having the final word. Jesus goes on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does he sleep (peace on earth, peace on earth)
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
We have the promise that God makes everything good and right again through Jesus, and we get to be active participants in it. We gather weekly to celebrate this and be encouraged at church. It is a gift not to have to go it alone. We have the Holy Spirit and each other. So take heart, friends. Christmas reminds us that God is with us, and he invites us into this renewal of all things.