A Bittersweet Christmas Special
Hello, my dear readers,
Today is a holiday special because it’s Christmas Eve. Some of you are celebrating, some are grieving the loss of loved ones, some are exhausted from the past year, some are excited, some are unhappy, and some are all of the above. Is your Christmas mug half empty or half full?
( ˘︹˘ )
The title of the song, “Hard Candy Christmas,” is a good analogy of a Christmas with mixed emotions. I’ve never seen the musical or movie, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” in which it debuted, so I don’t know the context in that respect, but I do appreciate this beautiful song.
The very first Christmas didn’t have images of smiling snowmen, cute penguins, or fun reindeer to balance the downsides. So let’s open to chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke and reflect on how bittersweet the Christmas story was.
The first line of the story of Jesus’ birth is Luke 2:1, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Already the tone is set that a government leader has exerted his power, causing an inconvenience for everyone. Consequently, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, which had so many people that they couldn’t find a room at any inns and resorted to using a feeding trough for a crib (Luke 2:4-7).
Let’s pause there because that sometimes gets glossed over. Have you ever been inconvenienced by the government and/or crowds? Have you ever been inconvenienced while trying to do God’s will?
Imagine Joseph and Mary’s feelings at this point because after all, they were mere human beings. They probably felt confused and dismayed. Have you ever felt confused and dismayed by your circumstances?
But at the same time, a multitude of angels sent by God were announcing Jesus’ birth to shepherds, who quickly went to Bethlehem and shared this experience (Luke 2:8-19). Joseph and Mary must have felt greatly comforted and reassured by this news.
1 Corinthians 14:33 says, “God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.” When you’re doing the will of God, you can trust Him in spite of your feelings and circumstances and have underlying peace as a result.
But wait, there’s more. 🙂
As we continue in the second chapter of Luke, verses 22-39 describe the presentation in the Temple. Again, we read how Joseph and Mary didn’t have a flawless experience. Their offering of birds indicates their financial means at the time because they couldn’t afford a lamb (Leviticus 12:8). And although they received inspiring prophecies of redemption from Simeon and Anna, Simeon told Mary, “Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:35).
Let’s pause again because that’s so easy to pass over especially since it’s in parenthesis. What an unsettling statement from Simeon! But it shows that ups and downs have been present during Christmastime ever since the very first Christmas.
I encourage you to read carefully through the first two chapters of the Gospel of Matthew with the same scrutiny as we did with the Gospel of Luke. Then you’ll find more details of the good, the bad, and the ugly, including a king, who wants to “seek the young Child to destroy Him” (Matthew 2:13)!
You might also be interested in reading the following blogs:
–“The Ultimate Guide to Beating the Holiday Blues“
–“4 Simple Tips for Managing Holiday Stress“
–“Giving Thanks in Hard Times“
–“Why Selfless Esteem Is Better Than Self-Esteem“
–“Mending a Broken Heart: 8 Methods to Ease Your Pain.”
In conclusion, a Christmas with mixed emotions and circumstances is totally normal. Thus, the true meaning of Christmas is that God loves us so much that He sent Jesus to an imperfect world to save us (John 3:11-21). May you receive His love and have a merry (albeit imperfect) Christmas. 💝
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New King James Version®. Copyright © 1984 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
If you’ve found this blog interesting, please share it on social media. And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest content.
Click here to ask a question about a life stressor you are facing. Your question and Selfless Esteem’s answer could be featured in a blog.