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  • Writer's pictureShannon Makujina

Christmas Blues

We have no Christmas lights in our home. No tree. No wreath. My roommate doesn’t feel like Christmas this year. I don’t either.

I cried myself to sleep last night, talking incoherently to God about things on my heart. I woke up this morning, out of nightmares about someone I loved, only to start praying again. The longer the day went on, the more depressed I felt. 

I went to see my favorite therapist, my horse Navarra. She wasn’t feeling like Christmas either. She ran away from me and I didn’t have the heart to run after her. I sat on her haybale, in a pile of straw, and I read the Christmas story.

It was surprisingly relatable. And I came to the unexpected realization that the true spirit of Christmas may lie more in us who are too sad to celebrate it, than with anyone else. 

Take Zechariah. He has been serving God in the temple his whole life. He and his wife were ‘righteous’ (Luke 1:6). They did all the right things. They were full time in ministry. They were prayer warriors. But their biggest prayer--the gift of their own child--had never been answered, and they had stopped hoping. I imagine there was some bitterness there. I imagine that after Elizabeth was about 50 or so, they had stopped praying, if not long before.

In fact, when the angel told Zechariah that he was going to have a son, he looks at the angel Gabriel and kindly tries to explain that he must be mistaken. He and his wife are ‘well along in years’. Gabriel tells him “your prayer has been heard” (1:13) and Zechariah basically responds “What prayer? Ohhhh…that one? Yeah, right.”

Zechariah prayed and waited. He gave up praying and waiting. And when an angel came with the message that God wanted to give him “joy and delight” (1:14), he wasn’t so sure. 

He wasn’t the only one tired of waiting. 

Simeon had been waiting for “consolation” or “comfort”, as we would say it, his entire life. He had been promised that he would see the Messiah--the one Israel had been waiting on for centuries--before he died. And now he was old and his health was failing. Imagine waiting on a promise that long! When he saw Jesus, he was filled with relief that he could die in peace. 

Anna was 84 and she had lived in the temple for most of that time, in full time ministry, like Zechariah and his wife. She was constantly fasting and praying. She was the picture of devotion. She saw her prayer answered--after 84 years.

Mary was a confused, terrified, humiliated teenager. Joseph was a disillusioned, disappointed young man, whose wedding was not going as planned. The shepherds were social outcasts, perpetually unclean, and not allowed into the temple to worship. 

While the Christmas story is one of great joy, it starts out with great pain.  

The Christmas story is really a story for people who are tired of praying, people who are losing faith, and people who have been grasping at shreds of hope for years. 

The Christmas story says there is hope for me. There is hope for people who have prayed the same prayer for years and given up on it. There is hope for those who have waiting for decades. There is hope for people who are almost dead and believe in a promise they were given. There is a hope for reconciliation in broken relationships (Luke 1:17). 

Ultimately, there is a salvation for the broken characters in the Christmas story--all of us--who are in desperate need of a time of favor and mercy (Luke 1:48-50).

When Zechariah held his baby in his arms, old enough to be his grandfather, this is what he said. This is what Christmas is (1:78-79).

Because of our God’s merciful compassion, 

the dawn from on high will visit us

to shine on those who live in darkness,

and the shadow of death, 

to guide our feet into the way of peace.

For an entire nation, waiting in doubt and disbelief for centuries, Christmas was a thrill of hope for a weary world to rejoice in. 

It still is today.

The message of Christmas is for all of us who are suffering quietly during this holiday season: Keep praying. Keep waiting. Keep hoping. God has heard your prayers. Salvation is at hand.

O Come All You Unfaithful (Sovereign Grace Music) 

O come, all you unfaithful

Come, weak and unstable

Come, know you are not alone

O come, barren and waiting ones,

Weary of praying, come

See what your God has done!

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