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Have you ever had an ache in your heart? An ache that weighs you down and hurts so badly that it won’t go away?
Maybe it was a close friend talking behind your back, and it just killed you on the inside. Maybe it was watching a loved one battle cancer or another disease until it took his or her life. Maybe it was a friend or family member who misread something you said or did and have held a grudge against you ever since.
It could even be watching your child suffer from a disability, or getting made fun of at school, or struggling through school. Or maybe it is the ache of being addicted and feeling like there is no way out.
Maybe you are under the crushing weight of debt or unemployment. You don’t know how you are going to pay your bills or make ends meet. Maybe you have a job but the stress of it is taking its toll on you, causing anxiety and physical problems.
Maybe you feel trapped in life — like you simply exist each day with no purpose.
Is this the best life has to offer? Will anything ever change? Is there any reason to have hope? Do you long for things to be better? Do you hope for a day when all will be set right?
In this world, there is immeasurable glory. And yet there is immeasurable pain and suffering. We long for something else — a better world.
We long for peace, but we never can seem to attain it. We long for justice, but the system seems wildly unjust. We have hope. But hope in what?
Is this the way life will always be? Will we ever find joy in this life?
Will love ever prevail instead of hate and violence and pain?
Will our hopeful longings ever be realized into something?
Will our tears ever be wiped away?
Is God just out there — distant and removed from our pain? Does God even know how hard life is? Does God know how unjust the world is?
Does God know how many doors are closed on those in desperate need? Does God know what it is like to be pushed to the edges without a place to lay your head? Does God know what it is like to ache and be in pain?
The surprising answer is yes because that same God was born unto us and lived a life in full flesh as a human being who understands our pain, our emotions, and our longings for all things to be made right.
Christmas, the Incarnation, the word becoming flesh, the Christ-child being born, is the focal point of history. It is the moment in which God came to us from humble beginnings in a manger on the edge of society to love, to serve, to demonstrate life, and to save.
God’s plan of redemption and restoration started on Christmas Day through the birth of his son. But we celebrate his birth only for the victory over death through resurrection. For without rising from the dead, his birth is utterly meaningless.
That is why we celebrate this light coming into the darkness. That is why we live by faith and have hope that the forces of evil are being exhausted and taking their last breath. That is why we live and celebrate victoriously on Christmas Day because we have hope that our sufferings are only temporary.
It is on this day, in light of his resurrection, that we celebrate his birth in one accord and look forward to a day when all things will be set right — heaven and earth will finally be one.
It is in Jesus that we know that God acted decisively in history by coming down to a people desperately needing life, hope and rescue. The meager, tiny baby in the manger that drew the attention of all creation: the angels, the wise men, the shepherds in the field, the kings of the land, people all throughout the world, and every man, woman, and child throughout history … is celebrated, praised and lifted high, because he won the greatest victory in history.
In Jesus, God’s Kingdom broke into this world and initiated a completely new way of doing life that looks nothing like anything this world has ever seen. It was in Jesus that heaven and earth came together as one. And it is through Jesus that heaven and earth are continuing to come together today in those of us who give their entire lives to him. For in Jesus is our peace, our joy, our love, our redemption, our salvation, and our hope.
Columbus’ Brandon Andress is a writer and former church leader. He can be reached at his website andthentheendwillcome.com or brandonandress.com.
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