Christmas, we are told, is a time for peace and joy; a time to celebrate and enjoy the blessings of God. But that’s only part of the Christmas story.
We like to pick and choose our Bible verses looking for words to bring comfort. If we take the time to read the whole account of Jesus’ birth there are also some unpleasant parts. In the gospels we discover that the first Christmas also included sorrow and pain. If we keep reading long enough we come to this verse in Matthew:
A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more. (2:18)
While the Wise Men usually appear in our nativity scenes we tend to leave out Herod and his henchmen. However there is no avoiding it, in the midst of our lovely Christmas story there is a horrible massacre of children; the suffering and pain of innocents.
This isn’t supposed to happen when the Messiah comes. We don’t like stories that cause us discomfort. That’s why it is so difficult to watch the news of 132 children killed in Pakistan yesterday. Taliban terrorist attacked a school and walked the hallways shooting children at random. It’s hard to imagine the pain and suffering so many families are feeling today. It’s so senseless and makes us so angry. How does this happen? When will it ever end?
This is the season of Advent. Advent is about preparing for the coming of Christ. And he did come, as a baby in a manger in Bethlehem. Scripture tells us that he will come again. As believers, we long for his second coming, when his Kingdom will come in its fullness.
Until then, evil, sickness and death remain with us. We cannot deny that. But sorrow and grief do not have the final word. With his first coming Jesus defeated the power of sin and death on the cross. His resurrection is proof that victory is guaranteed. But we live in ‘this present age’ – between his first and second appearing. We are waiting for “the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13) At his second appearing he will put away evil forever.
While we wait we must not lose heart. We will mourn with those who mourn this Christmas season. We will pray for the comfort of the Holy Spirit. And we will pray ‘maranatha’ – come quickly Lord Jesus.