As I write this, Christmas decorations are being put up all across the world. Here in the States, the air is nippy in some areas, downright cold in others. Twinkling lights, Christmas carols, and shopping ads come onto the scene as everyone rushes around trying to make the season just perfect.
But I find myself in an oddly familiar place once again this year. As my husband pulls out the Christmas decorations, I seem to be in the same state of mind I’ve been before –a place of just going through the motions. I find myself reflecting back on the year, and again repeating what I said last year, and the year before that – it’s been a hard year. Oh, this year wasn’t nearly as hard as other years, or anywhere near as hard it could have been, and I readily admit that – but still, it’s a year that has taken a toll on me just the same.
So I sit a moment and ponder these things.
Is every year going to be hard from here on out? Is this our “new normal”? Is it just us, or are others struggling through the same kinds of things?
I belong to several prayer groups and loops, so I can answer the last question easier than the others. It’s not just us. In fact, it’s too many others too. So many others that our hard times don’t look nearly as hard as others. This past week, I sat at my desk crying. My husband walked through my office and asked what was wrong. I shared with him that a friend was going through a very difficult time. It was a situation I’d been through myself years ago, and my heart just felt like it was breaking all over. I wanted to fix her problems, although I knew they were so enormous that only God could truly fix them.
But it’s practically impossible (not totally – because I’ve experienced this as well) to see that GOOD can and will eventually come out of something so horrific. So I cried for my friend. And I prayed for her. And for a brief moment, I wasn’t going through motions of anything. Resting in Him, trusting Him, loving Him.
Then it hit me.
That’s where He wants us.
God doesn’t want us just going through the motions. He deserves our full worship because Christmas is not about us. It’s not about living that wonderful life, warm and fuzzy and perfect. It’s not about stuff – giving or getting. It’s not about doing – even when the doing is something good. It’s not about decorations, or cookies, or egg nog, or divinity. It’s not about shopping til we drop, getting good deals, filling the empty space under the tree with more boxes than it can hold. It’s not about gathering with family and friends in a warm kitchen or around a gorgeous, overflowing Martha Stewart kind of table. It’s not even about helping out at the food bank, or picking a need from an Angel Tree, or handing out mittens to the homeless.
This season is about JESUS.
We’re celebrating our Savior’s birth, and His death. Jesus came to earth as a baby, lived a human life, and then died for us – innocent and perfect, yet He chose His Father’s will over His own, so that we could live forever with Him.
The prophet Habakkuk lived during a time of oppression and lawlessness, a time that sounds eerily familiar today. But Habakkuk was wise, and penned these words of encouragement that we all should take to heart this holiday season. Habakkuk 3:17-18 in The Message Bible:
Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
Let us all take heart and gain strength this year, regardless of our circumstances, and remember the true reason for this season. Let us REJOICE, for our Savior lives!
Happy Birthday, Jesus!
 The Message: Remix. Eugene H. Peterson. Colorado Springs: NavPress Publishing Group. 2002. Print.