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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year….Except When It Isn’t.

Forgive me for the silence these past couple of weeks. We ended up moving rather suddenly and that consumed our life. But I’m back!

I love Christmas. The smell of cider and fresh baked cookies, the coming together of friends and family, twinkling lights that make everything a bit warmer, and celebrating the most amazing miracle in human history. For a brief few weeks, everything just seems…cozier.

Peace is on earth and goodwill seems abundant.

Then comes a piercing, heart-rendering reminder that we live in a broken, fallen world where evil does not rest. Perhaps it this backdrop of celebrated joy in a season of innocence and charity that makes evil seems all the more dark and jarring.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, except when tragedy shatters that illusion.

The shootings in Sandy Hook, the stabbing of children in China. Closer to home, a little girl facing cancer for the third time , and yesterday, a dear colleague passing away after a month in a coma from a motorcycle accident.

And what about those for whom this season is already filled with such pain, loneliness, regret, or emptiness?

Taken together, it doesn’t make sense to me. Why do these things happen? How do you bear up under the constant deluge of death, decay, and destruction?

You go back to the beginning, and there you find hope.

This season isn’t about beautiful presents wrapped under a tree, parties with friends, or all the other accessories that have come to define the holidays. The noise, the busyness, and the to-do lists can drown out what Christmas has always been about.

A little child, born to a teenage mom, in a forgotten barn filled with dirty hay and dirtier animals, with only a few worn and ragged shepherds taking notice.

There were no front-page headlines announcing this birth, no photo spreads in People Magazine depicting the sleeping babe and adoring parents. Nothing spectacular in appearance or circumstances to make anyone take notice.

Yet it is because of this birth that there is hope, both in this season and for all times. This little baby and this seemingly insignificant family would alter history.

Love him, hate him, or think nothing of him, but this baby wrapped in simple cloth brought calm into chaos, light into darkness, hope in the midst of despair.

He entered this world a helpless child and died a brutal death. And in so doing, he conquered evil. He brings hope and life where there was only decay and death.

Evil is not permanent.
Evil is finite, has limits, and evil cannot overwhelm the gift that this baby brought.
Evil has been conquered, and though it may win the day, it will not win in the end.

This baby is the reason we have hope this season. Even as relationships crumble, children die, diseases ravage, and madmen destroy innocence, there is yet hope. Hope in a life that is yet unfolding, in One who sees all things, who grieves over this broken world more than we do and who is never ceasing to work all things for good.

For a blog about relationships, sex, dating, and marriage, this may not be what many of you expected. Or even want to read. It may offend you, may perplex you, may seem like just another fairytale in a season of whimsy and magic.

Yet I know no other way to answer the darkness that threatens to overwhelm and the pain that rattles my heart, other than to turn back to the real meaning of Christmas, the only meaning that can make this season the most wonderful time of the year, even when it does not seem that way on the surface.

When our hearts are burdened with big questions and gaping loss, I cannot simply give you trite answers or pithy words about how relationships matter, to hold on to the ones you love, or that life is short (all of which is true).

I can only offer you where I find hope this season. And all seasons that my life may pass through.

Come the new year, we will be back to our regular programming, for which I hope you will join me. Thank you for allowing me to share my heart and may you have a wonderful holiday season wherein you find hope and joy, whatever your circumstances may be.

Where do you find hope in times of darkness? What to you is special about this season?

Photo courtesy of s-ydneey via flickr.

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