Hope for the Hopeless
In just a few days, the winter season will officially begin. For many, this time of year is marked by much happiness and anticipation. Christmas break is drawing near. School will be out for a few weeks. Children look forward to unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning. Families enjoy time spent together watching movies, baking Christmas treats, and hanging decorations. It really is a time of cheer.
Yet this season is not so cheerful for everyone. In fact, for many, Christmas can be the hardest time of year. While some children anticipate Christmas morning with their parents, others mourn the pain of a broken home. While some parents anticipate their children coming home from college, others grieve a resentful child who has cut ties with them. While many people celebrate time with those they love, many also feel the deep pain of having lost loved ones.
Winter in our part of the world is literally the darkest time of the year. For some, the darkness is more than just an early sunset; it’s the pain of trying to endure another day when they see no hope in sight.
Isn’t it interesting that in the darkest season of the year we celebrate Christmas? Here in Fairfax, Virginia, we don’t celebrate when the weather is nice and sunny or when the breeze is refreshingly cool or when the flowers are in full bloom. Instead, Christmas comes when the daylight hours are few, when the nights are cold, when the wind is bitter, and when nature is dying.
But that’s actually quite fitting for Christmas, isn’t it? Think about the first Christmas for a minute. For millennia God had been promising a king who would come and establish righteousness and justice throughout the land. He would bring peace and stability. He would set captives free and judge the wicked. But where was he? Had God forgotten his promises? Had he abandoned Israel forever? A wicked king ruled. The religious leaders were burdening God’s people. The temple was a mere shadow of what it had once been. The night was dark. The air was cold. The wind was bitter. The land was dead.
It was at that point—the darkest night—that the Word became flesh (John 1:14). It was at that point that the immaterial became material. The preexistent Son of God traded heaven for a manger. He traded riches for poverty. He traded glory for shame. He traded power for weakness.
What makes Christmas unique is that it reveals a God who did not sit idly by when his people cried out in pain. The beauty of the Incarnation is that God recognized the fullness of the sorrow that man experienced and chose to do something about it. He wouldn’t rain down fire from heaven as he did in times past. Nor would he lead a military conquest against his enemies. All of history was culminating in the very point when God would rescue his people by entering into their pain.
Christmas is about the Son of God becoming vulnerable for our sake. Isaiah 53:4 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” He knew that the Incarnation would be filled with sorrow, yet he entered into the sorrow in order to carry our burdens. If there’s anyone who understands your grief during the Christmas season, it is Jesus. The darkness is very real; don’t pretend it’s not. But know this: The light has shone into the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:5).
If your Christmas season is filled with sorrow, you don’t have to fake being cheerful. But you don’t have to despair, either. Instead, let your sorrow drive you to Jesus. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
About the Author
Craig Daniell is a second-year Upper School Christian Studies teacher and also serves as the assistant baseball coach at Trinity. He has a passion for teaching God’s word and seeing students grow in their understanding and love for Jesus Christ. In his spare time, he enjoys playing sports and watching movies. He and his wife, Kelsi, live in Alexandria.