I guess it’s a good thing we can’t see the future or we would spend our days fretting over the impending trials we would face. Some people would say that they could just do without the hard times, but if you think about it, we can’t learn to appreciate the good if we didn’t experience the bad. And, we do get to appreciate the blessings that come out of going through trials. It could be blessings we probably wouldn’t have experienced if it weren’t for those trials. I’m not a “Pollyanna” by any means, but most times, if I am going through a trial, most people wouldn’t know it. It’s not that I put on a “fake” smile, but I try to keep in mind the Bible verse, “All things work together for the good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28. The Bible also says that God will give us peace that passes all understanding so that when we’re in the midst of a trial when things seems to be falling apart, God will give us His peace so that we can get through whatever it is we’re going through and when people look at us, they’re not seeing US falling apart, but they’re seeing how God is holding us up so that we can get through our trial(s) with our heads held up. Does that mean we can’t ever show emotion? Not at all. But we should be able to show the world that God is our fortress in times of trouble and that we have our hope in Him.
I hope, if you’re reading this, you’ll read it to the end. I tried not to ramble 🙂
This year I didn’t put up my Christmas tree. I debated with myself back and forth about whether or not to do so. One of the obstacles that prevented me from putting it up is that there is a large piece of furniture in the area of my living room where my tree is supposed to go and my husband has had to deal with back problems around the time that I would have taken the opportunity to put it up and I would’ve had no clue where to move it and store it while my tree was taking up that space. But, still, even if he hadn’t had his back issues and was able to help move said piece of furniture, I may not have put my tree up anyway.
I have found over the years that the true meaning of this celebration has been lost due to the commercialization and how vastly materialistic our country has become. In nearly every commercial on TV, we’re inundated with scenes of people getting brand new cars, or kids opening up gifts of the latest tech gadgets, or some loving husband giving his wife a velvet lined box with a piece of expensive jewelry in it, and we’re led to believe that this is what Christmas is all about. Frankly, I’m sick of it.
I have no issue with celebrating the birth of Christ because an entire host of angelic beings showed up in the little town of Bethlehem proclaiming his birth to a lowly group of shepherds and sang “Glory to God in the highest and, on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased” (Luke 2:14, ESV). So, I see no problem with Christians finding a way to celebrate his birth but it’s not about Christ anymore as far as the world is concerned. It’s about “what am I going to get this year??” Or, “you know we have to get Little Timmy that new iPad because we don’t want him to feel left out since his other friends are getting one.” The stress of trying to buy for others is real. What if they don’t like it? Well, then, get a gift card. Oh, but you can’t get a gift card because that means you didn’t put enough THOUGHT into it. Seriously, I wish the gift-giving would go away. A lot of kids these days are spoiled to the point that if they see something they want and don’t get it, they throw a tantrum. Do you know why it’s so hard to buy for people? Because they’re not in NEED of anything!! You’re just trying to find something that they MIGHT like or HOPE they like.
But, I’m not proposing doing away with giving altogether. As Christians, instead of focusing on giving to family who already have what they need, why not give to those who don’t have the necessities? Matthew 25:35-40 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
That, to me, is how we can celebrate the birth of Christ. He was born in a manger, aka, a CATTLE TROUGH! How much lowlier can you get? Why not give to those who, at this very minute, live in such a lowly manner? In all honesty, how much of a dent would we put in the homelessness in our country if EVERY Christian practiced this? If every church would pool together it’s resources and give to those who have nothing and are struggling to get by, would it make a huge impact in our country? I cringe every time I think about how we have huge churches in our communities with elaborate buildings and fancy furnishings while families two streets over can’t pay their bills because dad lost his job and mom’s sick with cancer and what little money they get from unemployment has to be divided between food and medicine but they can’t pay their power bill so the kids sleep in cold houses and can barely keep warm because they don’t have the proper clothing.
This is what bothers me about Christmas. We’re too busy thinking of ourselves and ignore those who need our help.