Smiling kids, bright lights and the piney scent of trees all dressed up for show. It’s a magical time of year.
Sometimes. For some of us, it’s a struggle. I’ve had years like that as I’m sure you have too. The very idea of putting up a Christmas tree is exhausting. Or makes you sad.
The pressure to DO Christmas seems to build more and more every year. Along with the pressure, comes the stress stealing the joy in our hearts. In many ways, Christmas brings out the worst in us as we fret and buzz around.
So I hide. I don’t think I’m the only one. Sometimes the busiest people are really just hiding in their business. Others of us, really do become hermits.
Why would we want to hide at Christmas? Isn’t it the time of miracles? The most wonderful time of the year?
One reason I hide is to avoid the inevitable disappointment. There have been times I’ve looked for Christ at Christmas but all I hear is silence. Ever happen to you?
I walk away from the holidays disappointed with God. Isn’t that the anti-thesis of Christmas? When it rolls around in twelve months time, I hide again, Afraid that down deep I’m doing something wrong. Christmas magnifies our hurts tenfold, doesn’t it? So we hide.
Pretty depressing, right? Isn’t Christmas supposed to be joyous? Maybe in our fantasy lives. Because in real life, stuff happens. Suffering happens. It doesn’t miraculously stop for Christmas.
Christmas in real life is very different from all the Christmas feel good movies and stories. But the miracle is still there if we can be open to seeing it.
In fact, the story of Jesus’ birth is not all unicorns and rainbows. Have you noticed that? Mary and Joseph didn’t have a place to stay and she was ready to give birth. Can you imagine the almost heart attack Joseph was probably having? Mary was going to give birth amongst animals. Without a midwife or help of any kind. I.Can’t.Even. Not to mention the gossip that followed them like a black rain cloud. What? You think that stayed in Nazareth? Probably half the village had to go to Bethlehem too. The gossips probably travelled with them. None of this was easy.
When we look at the story of Jesus’ birth we skip over some of these very messy details. One often overlooked is the four hundred years of silence from God between the Old Testament prophecies of Malachi and the birth of Jesus.
Four hundred years. Of Silence. We get fretful and anxious waiting twenty-four hours. Imagine waiting four hundred years!
It’s not like God’s people were cloistered either during those years. Those four hundred years were busy times indeed.
Major ancient world events were happening. Palestine was ruled by five different nations; Persia, Greece, Egypt, Syria and Rome.1 Some of it was brutal.2
The Jews were forced to worship pagan gods.2 It was a time of unrest and revolt.
Not a word from God. His silence must have echoed like the winds of a hurricane. Here were His people under pagan rule and he wasn’t lifting a finger. Where was He?
Silent doesn’t mean absent.
I don’t know why God remained silent those four hundred years. I don’t even know why he remains silent in my own life or in the lives of those I love. But what I’m learning is just because he’s silent doesn’t mean he’s not present. It’s just the opposite. He’s right in the middle of it.
He had things under control back then. He was putting into place the events of His Son’s birth and life and ministry. For the New Testament Church.
“Many things occurred that made the time just right for Jesus’ ministry and the writing of the New Testament. For example, the Greek language spread throughout the world, providing a common language, and the Roman period provided a time of unprecedented peace, magnificent highways, and uniform laws that aided the spread of the gospel by the first century church.” Kids Answers website
God was working everything together to put His plan of salvation in place. And later, to spread that Good News around the world. He was there and he was getting ready to send His Own to us.
“All of these changes set the stage for the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ, to come ‘in the fullness of time’ (GALATIANS 4:4).”1
In the fullness of time. It all rolled out just as God had planned. When everything was in place, God’s Son came down to earth to save us. To be present among His people. In the flesh.
Emmanuel. God with us. God may seem silent in our lives and maybe during the Christmas season but that doesn’t mean he’s absent. Look for his hands at work. Wait with expectation until you can see Him. But most of all know that He is with us, whether silent or not. Emmanuel. God with us. At all times. In all circumstances. In all joy. In all suffering. All.The.Time. This is the miracle of Christmas.