I’m not a huge Elvis fan, but his song about a blue Christmas hits home for me at this time of year. All the hustle and bustle going on in our world – all the confusion about politics and the effect they have on world events – all the sadness of losing a loved one at this time of year – being alone and away from family or those we love – being in harms way in service of our country – all those contribute to depression, sadness and often hopelessness.
Maybe we’re feeling sad because our budget won’t allow the gifts we used to purchase. We might feel guilty for not being able to give to our church or charities. We may have concerns about our health, our future and what we leave or don’t leave behind. These are all legitimate feelings at a time when there is so much focus on giving.
Sadness may come from being alone. You may be surrounded by crowds of people, but those who mean the most to you are far away and your only connection is the internet. There are those who are in broken relationships – facing difficult illnesses – those whose loved ones have passed from this mortal coil. When you’re facing difficulty of any kind, the date on the calendar doesn’t matter. One day is like the other and often we just grow deeper into our sadness, because it’s so close to Christmas. We have constant reminders of those losses or our aloneness.
The anticipation is like that of a small child waiting for Santa Clause – knowing that when he comes, things are going to get better. Once the gifts are opened and the decorations are put away, we go back to our old feelings. The fleeting moments of joy are simply temporary.
We’re in the season of anticipation or Advent. We become anxious for the Savior’s return. We recall, with music and stories that stir the heart, what that first Christmas was like. It didn’t come wrapped in big red ribbons or shiny paper. The entire incident and the events leading up to it were filled with mystery, shame, confusion. The angelic messages to those who participated in the plan of God must’ve been amazing, but still there were questions – the unexplained – having to face humiliation. Every one involved in the story of Jesus’ birth were subjected to all these things, yet they overcame them by faith and the promises from God’s own lips.
That first Noel didn’t take place in a luxurious hospital, with midwives and trained professionals in sanitary garb. A boy was born of a virgin in a dirty, smelly shelter for animals. It might’ve been the holding place for newly born lambs, but this was the lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. The final sacrifice to make us right with God.
He wasn’t wrapped in robes of purple, nor did He have the benefit of a nanny or servants. He was a simple child, born in poverty, in the lowliest conditions possible. Yet in that manger lay the King of Creation – God Himself!
Our gifts pale in comparison to the One God gave us on the night of Jesus’ birth. That doesn’t mean we will be free of sadness or depression. Those emotions are real and they hurt, but if we keep our eyes focused on the true meaning of Christmas, we can’t help being overjoyed. Each human being ever to walk this earth has been gifted with the promise of eternal life and no fear of death. Through Jesus, we have the assurance that our lives today are simply a training period for us – a time to grow in our faith, learn about God and share His wonderful message with others.
There will be blue Christmases. Every one of mine as held a touch of sadness. We all experience these moments in different ways, but we all have been given the greatest gift ever, because of the Giver’s love for us.