In Luke 2 we read about the angels appearing to the shepherds, praising God and giving him glory, and imparting peace and good will toward earth; sharing the message of Christ’s birth. What a glorious story!
In Matthew 2 the Wise Men come, bringing their gifts, bowing in obeisance, in reverence, to the Christ-child. After they leave, Joseph has a dream where God instructs him to flee to Egypt with his family to escape from Herod. Praise the Lord! Isn’t it great how God intervenes to ensure that His plan for Christ’s life is fulfilled?
“Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and went forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
What about these babies? Why was one spared, but not all? Why was one parent warned, while all the other parents grieved?
The flip-side of Christmas is that there are plenty of people who aren’t rejoicing. Even the birth of Christ himself was a time of weeping for many parents who lost their babies. Jesus wasn’t spared so much because He was God’s son, as because He had a purpose to fulfill for God. God, as the Creator, is the One who determines the point and duration of each life; as a consequence of sin, death should never have been a choice He had to make.
These families were not given a dream, a warning. These families woke up to a typical morning but laid down at night devastated. There will be those this Christmas just like them. Mothers that were not spared. There is the wonderful, beautiful side of Christmas, just like Jesus’ birth and angels singing, where your home is a place where love radiates and family cherishes. But there is also the tragic side of Christmas, like these mothers and fathers, where there is mourning, and frustration, anger, and pain. Often we pass over this darker facet of the Christmas story- who wants to dwell on evil and tears, when we can think about joy, and peace, and a sweet cuddly baby surrounded by animals and shepherds? It can be just as easy to ignore the fact that as we sit down to our Christmas dinner, there are those nearby who are starving. As we gather in our churches to watch a Christmas program of our kids and grandkids singing, there are parents whose child has died and there is no comfort to be found. They are also starving…for a reason, for answers, for a Savior from death.There are those sitting in a hospital room, with bare white walls instead of garlands, trees, and fireplaces…with fluorescent lights instead of colored ones. Will you be the love of God for them? Will you show them there is hope, just as Jesus did in that time long ago? Will you let them see that life is so much bigger than the hardship they are facing? Let’s broaden our focus this Christmas, and see not just the good things, not even just ease our consciences with a little good-will, but actively set out to let others know that God has a plan, and it’s a good one.
Not sure what you can do? Check out one of my favorite charities, WorldVision, an organization that gives others a means of helping themselves to become self-sufficient but also shares the Word of God as they do it! But don’t stop there…give of yourself too. There are those in your community that God has given specifically to you! Go find them!
Photo credit: donnierayjones via Foter.com / CC BY