Nine years ago this past week my wife was given six months to live. On the same day that we received that diagnosis, I lost my job. I spent the afternoon exhausted, sitting in mud, cradling my one year old in the rain, while I cried. Having left the hospital to get my child from day care, I was too exhausted to get up and go inside. It was a Christmas to remember.
My wife and I sat in her hospital room that night contemplating life without her, life without my job, life as a single parent, and life for my child who would be both motherless and without memory of her mother. Christmas was the last thing on our minds. Late that night, having talked in ways you will never talk to your spouse if they are not dying, the doctor came in and told us that the original diagnosis was uncertain and they were going to have to send a lung biopsy they had taken off to experts.
I still have my wife. She was not dying after all. I still have my job too, though it has evolved and morphed into something I never foresaw or expected. That Christmas was an overwhelming time, and Christmas can be so overwhelming for so many people. At the end of the year we have accumulated worries, burdens, and fears. We have stress about gifts, money, family, shopping and cooking.
From personal experience, I can tell you that sometimes it is better to not focus on yourself, but to help someone else. Our natural temptation is to bunker down in a well of self-pity and doubt, to tell no one, and to feel overwhelmed. If you are weary and heavy laden this Christmas season, I have been there. I have fallen to a low I never anticipated, only to be lifted right back up again. Wallowing in the misery is neither helpful nor beneficial. There are others out there willing to share the burden and there are others at lower places than you. Turning to help others at Christmas is the best prescription to get out of any funk you may be in.
But there is another too who can share your burden. This Christmas, as commercialism and secularism set in, we should not forget what the holiday is all about. More than two thousand years ago, a baby was born in a manger. The people of the age expected a mighty king who would wear a golden crown and rule with iron fists. Instead, we got an infant born in a stable surrounded by animals. The first witnesses to his birth were shepherds, who were of such a low station in life, their testimony was not even accepted in courts of the day.
That is the glorious impossible to which we should all be amazed. The Christian faith is a faith of miracles and blessings and grace. We worship a child born of a virgin who was tortured and crucified, died, was buried, and then rose again. It is an impossibility, yet we believe by faith it happened. We have the testimony of men and women in ages past who were willing to go to their deaths proclaiming Jesus as their Lord.
The odds are at this Christmas season you are not going to be tortured or beheaded for your faith. While it is happening abroad, we are blessedly exempt here from those horrors right now. But Christ the Lord does reign and was born and does live. Your Christmas burdens can be cast onto him and he will carry your burdens and even carry you.
Christmas is a restoration. In the Garden at the fall, God no longer walked among men. In a manger in Bethlehem at the fulcrum point of history, God walked with us again and will walk with you if you ask. History before Jesus’s birth pointed to him and history now yearns for his return. As you get overwhelmed this season with heavy burdens, there is one who history points to who will share your burden if only you will ask. Merry Christmas.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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