The Hard Part of Christmas

The holidays can be a uniquely happy time. All the parties and lights, the seasonal music, the special programs, the anticipation of being together with family…all these things make for a build-up of emotions.

But if we’re honest, it isn’t necessarily all joy and peace.

The hard part of the happiest season of all is that it can also be the saddest, and the scariest. 

Depending on your situation, all those parties, programs, and get-togethers may only add to your sense of isolation and fear. If you’re single and desperately want to be in a relationship, the holidays have a way of magnifying that missing piece. Or if you’ve lost a loved one recently, there’s nothing like the holidays to underscore that person’s absence. Or if you’re having trouble in a relationship, things seem to get even more complicated during the holidays.

Your lips might be singing Joy to the World, but because of all the variables, your heart isn’t so sure.

It is interesting, and even a little ironic, how often the phrase “Do not be afraid” shows up in the narrative of Christ’s birth. With such a great story, how could anyone be afraid? Didn’t Jesus come to make things better? So why all the stress?

Read the Christmas story and it seems that just about everyone in the whole cast of characters struggled with fear at the beginning. Before they could embrace their divinely-ordained parts in the grand narrative, their fears had to first be put in check.

It is no different for us.

To Joseph, the angel said, “Do not be afraid to to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 1:20).

To Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ (who would be born just before Jesus), Gabriel said, “Don’t be afraidGod has heard your prayer.” (Luke 1:13).

Six months later, the same angel, Gabriel, said to young Mary, “Don’t be afraid,…for you have found favor with God!” (Luke 1:30).

And to the shepherds in the fields ouside of Bethlehem, an angel appeared and said, “Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring joy to all people. The Savior – yes, the Messiah, the Lord – has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:10-11).

Do you see a theme?

Life is scary. It always has been. Even at Christmas.

But here’s the thing. For as long as people have been struggling with fear, God has been faithfully saying over and over and over again, “Don’t be afraid.”

And He’s saying it again this Christmas. The good news is that because of Immanuel – the God who is with us – we don’t have to be afraid anymore. Jesus came into our world to deliver us from our deepest, darkest, and most dreaded fears. Here’s a simple explanation of how He did it:

Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NLT)

If fear is trying to make you its slave this Christmas, make it answer to Jesus. His story did not end at Bethlehem. That was just the beginning of His journey as a human being, a journey that would climax in the next town over – Jerusalem. Long story short, the baby grew up and became a man. Then He died. Now He lives. No need to fear.

It’s a new day with God. Run with it.

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