With Christmas coming right around the corner, perhaps you, like me, are getting excited for all the things that go along with Christmas Day. Maybe you look forward to reading the Christmas story with your family on Christmas Day, eating Christmas meals, or simply enjoying time spent with friends and family. No doubt the holiday season is a special time. However, it’s no surprise that often there are things that fight for our attention this time of year and add stress to moments that should be nothing but pure enjoyment. Maybe it’s a relationship conflict. Maybe you, like many others, are feeling stretched financially and are unsure what 2017 might bring. Maybe you are beginning to get discouraged because of a lingering sin in your life. Or perhaps you just find yourself in a dark spot and feel abandoned. All of these are real things that add a huge weight to what should be a joyful time of year. 

Let me remind you, however, that on that very first Christmas in Bethlehem, Jesus was born in the middle of what some would call a “scandalous relationship.” The very reason Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem was to be taxed, and the Jews had lived 400 years feeling abandoned, wondering if the Messiah would come. It is into this context that we see the Savior of the world born. Jesus willingly entered into our “mess” by veiling himself in human flesh. The very one one who formed galaxies lay in a manger. The Creator of the world did not consider equality with God something to be used for his own advantage, but instead identified with His creation by taking the form of a man. It can be easily forgotten, with all the commercialized nativity scenes, that Christ was actually born into a rather dark situation. Yet, isn’t that the reason He came, to provide hope in the midst of our adversity? 

So the next time you feel overwhelmed this Christmas season by the very real struggles of life and the trials you are facing, remember: Christ took the form of fragile humanity and entered into our broken world. "This is where the Christian message stands tall above any other teaching on pain and suffering and goes beyond any other answers to our problem… [for] Christianity alone offers a person.” [1] His name is Jesus. He is Emmanuel, God with us, and He is the reason we celebrate Christmas!

[1] Zacharias, Ravi and Vince Vitale. Why Suffering? Finding Meaning and Comfort When Life Doesn’T Make Sense. United States: Little, Brown & Company, 2014, pp. 30.