Dear Friends,

As I experience this Christmas season I am more aware than ever that a lot of people are deeply hurting. Life does not always allow us to take holidays from our problems, and, sometimes, the severity of our problems can keep us from finding any joy in the holidays. If this is the case for you, I want you to know that you are not alone. The Christmas story is the story of a world in need of saving. It is a story about seeking and seeing light in the midst of dark and desperate times. Our suffering produces questions and our questions lead us to look for answers.

We pursue these answers in different ways. This year, as I grieve the loss of my sister and the losses of those navigating similar sorrows, I look for mine in the unexpected form of a baby, lying in a manger. The gifts I have to bring Him are not really gifts at all. The fear, despair, and sadness I feel are not offerings you would give to a king. No one would ever want them. They are signs of my brokenness. Signs that I am in need of saving. Still, I place these before Him, because I have nothing else to give. And to my ever increasing amazement, He accepts them. He accepts them because He accepts me. That baby in the manger presents me with the ultimate Christmas gift: unconditional love.

As far as present exchanges go, there is no contest. God gives me His perfect life in exchange for my own. He takes all my suffering and I, in turn, receive His gifts of love, joy, and peace. This unequal exchange does not make sense by human standards. Perhaps that it is why it is hard to believe at times. Like the inns in Bethlehem, our minds are too crowded with our own logic to make room for things that we cannot understand. We shut nonsense out of our lives, and, in the process, leave little space for miracles.

This Christmas season, I am confronted with the reality of many things I cannot understand. And yet, the confusion I feel has created more space in my heart to receive the miracle of God’s love. It has created space to fully accept His Heavenly gifts of love, joy, and peace. He knows that the world needs saving. The baby in the manger is His reminder that we have already been saved. Jesus is the answer I seek, and in Him, I find healing for my brokenness.

Wherever you are and whatever you believe, I pray that you will also know love, joy, and peace this holiday season. I pray that you will find the answers you seek in response to your pain and that you experience healing in your lives. May your hearts be comforted by the hope of good news and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Light has a way of shining in the darkest of places. Just keep looking.

Merry Christmas Friends.