Christmas for many is a time in which they hope to experience an atmosphere of love – of acceptance, of belonging, and of being counted worth sacrificing for (at least on some level). And for some, the season seems to unwrap for them all for which they have hoped. But a great many are left disappointed, not finding satisfaction for the expectations that they’ve built up over the weeks and months preceding the Christmas holiday.
For some, love comes their way but they don’t recognize it at the door and refuse to let it in. Then there are others who apparently have never learned to look outward into the lives of others, their eyes being fixed upon their own wants and comforts; they are never satisfied and, of course, never learn to share love with anyone else. And then there really are some who have become bruised and battered from their circumstances and their Christmas season is truly characterized by an aching loneliness or a desperate want.
Perhaps you know people like those mentioned above. I do. I know people who have suffered, yet when God’s hand reached out to them through the tenderness of a caring person, either suspicion or jaded hearts shut the door to the wonder of grace. For these, it would seem that, like the inn of long ago, there is no room for love to come in with healing in its wings for their world-weary souls. Because they choose to not risk hurt or loss, they miss out on the healing and hope that could be theirs. Christmas for someone who won’t open his or her heart to love is a sad time indeed.
I know modern-day Scrooges, too, who think of no one but themselves. When they look upon others, all they see are various means to the end of furthering their own agendas. And while I have met many a Scrooge, who have at the very least the “virtue” of being “a good man of business” (according to Dickens) with a shred of honor down deep inside (nearly invisible though it may be), I’ve also met many Grinches who take being selfish even further than simply being cold-hearted. They don’t hesitate a bit to put on a fair face of deception, even as they rob you blind, rationalizing it as right because they believe that if the world isn’t their oyster, it ought to be. Christmas for them is never the time of peace, hope, and joy that we look for in the season, namely because whatever they have, they should have more and whatever is done for them is never enough.
But I also have known some who find that Christmas is a time of great sadness and frustration… not because they simply refuse to be satisfied, but because there are legitimate needs in their lives that remain unfilled and unaddressed. The loss of loved ones due to death or broken relationships, failing health, or (as is all too readily the case for so many) an inability to secure basic necessities for living all create a heavy burden that seem to dim the light that should be experienced in the Christmas season. They strive to be honorable as they strive to get by, yet their hands seem constantly empty and their hope withers away.
It is very possible that you have some of your own expectations for a “loving holiday” and certain preconceived notions as to what a “loving holiday” will look like. But whatever expectation you might have, be certain that they’re put into perspective. And no perspective about Christmas will be right or whole unless and until Jesus is the center of it. After all, the historical event of God sending His Son into the world that He would one day become Savior for sinners is the ultimate act of love. The fact is, whether you recognize it or not, you ARE loved! The cross of Christ answers that beyond all rebuttals and misgivings.
As to whether or not you will experience love in any tangible way this Christmas season is in large part up to you. If you will anchor your heart and mind in celebration of God’s love with worship of Him as your top priority, placing your faith in His Son as Savior, you will have started out right.
But that isn’t the end of the matter. Don’t expect it to be much of a loving season if you’re simply going to “hoard love” for yourself! Experiencing love doesn’t often “happen” to you if you’re not willing to “make it happen” for someone else first.
Do you want this Christmas season to be a season of love? Then let the love of Christ move you to love others in practical ways. Visit someone who is sick. Work on restoring a broken relationship. Volunteer to help a needy family. Share your blessings (material and otherwise) with someone who is doing without. Inasmuch as you share Jesus’ love with someone else, you in turn open yourself to the experience of love in all the ways that God will send it to you!
“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…. Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 4:7-10, 3:18 NIV).