In last week’s post I made the point that idealizing Christmas keeps us from seeing that it can still be good despite the harsh realities of the first Christmas and every one since. But I did not answer the question, “How can that be?”
On December 19 a local columnist, Dr. Ed Leap, published an editorial titled, “Christmas brings hope and joy amid life’s pain,” in our local newspaper. (Check his blog here. His entire column is well worth reading.) Dr. Leap is an emergency room physician who is a Christian. His wife was recently diagnosed with cancer.
His son expressed sadness that this news came just before Christmas. Upon reflection Dr. Leap observed, “Isn’t it wonderful that Christmas came now?” This inside-out view reminds us why Christmas is good.
In America, where only five per cent of the world’s population lives, many have believed that life is good and will always get better. But for most people in most of human history, life has been pretty brutal. War, famine, disease and disaster “have always been running in the background of human lives.”
Christ’s coming “preached peace” (Eph. 2:17) and pronounced the death sentence on Satan’s reign of death. But there is an unfinished chapter to that story that we must join Him in writing. As Christ incarnated hope to us, so are we to embody that hope to others.
We know that losses, though painful, are not necessarily defeats. When we who are believers refuse to give in to seemingly or even actually hopeless circumstances, we declare that the hope that Christ brought is subduing Satan through us, and that with every act of faith God is redeeming us and our fallen world.
Dr. Leap wrote, “Christmas, it seems, came at just the right time.” Despite appearances, hardship is not an intrusion on Christmas. Rather, Christmas is a welcome intrusion on hardship.
Every act of faith by a Christian is a victorious act of defiance against Satan. We affirm that Christ’s work will be completed and that He is now using us to do it, even in our weakness. In Narnia, it was always winter, but never Christmas. As we declare by our acts of faith that Christ has come and will come again, we declare that though it is often winter, it is always Christmas.