Can you believe it? In exactly one week, Christmas will be here. Wow, that’s kinda frightening, especially if you have to finish gift shopping and gearing up for the family travels, there are many working parts that happen during this time of year. Not to mention the high levels of depressing that this season can bring, losing lost ones, thinking about fears you have of the future, wondering if what you do actually means anything; the struggle hurts in a very real way. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The stress and the sadness that surrounds Christmas can seem overwhelming, but the truth is, we can have hope during this Christmas season.
This past week I had an opportunity to be a part of my church’s Spanish youth group. I was invited to come and share at a tradition called, “Posada de Navidad para los jóvenes,” which is where you visit three homes and sing three songs, and after the third, you go into the house and have an activity. Pastor David explained to me that this is to represent the homes that Mary and Joseph went to and were turned away from, but the last inn was able to give them space. It was cool because I was speaking on the fears that Mary and Joseph had on their journey to their home town. They were forced to travel while Mary was pregnant and being consistently turned down. So many times, in our lives we feel like this, we go to doors we think are options and the door is either locked or shut in our faces once we arrive. We lose hope, we start to give up because we think there is nothing that can save us. The truth is, God is always there, waiting for us to give him control and trust him, because his plan is so much better than ours. Jesus wasn’t supposed to be born in the fanciest inn, he was supposed to be born into a humble beginning, in a stable surrounded by animals. We can have hope, because if the king of the universe being born into human form, was born in a manger, we can have hope in our circumstance. You see, hope is possible in all things, because we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone.
In our struggles, look upwards.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the newest Star Wars came out. This is one of my favorite things ever, I grew up with these movies, read the extended universe books (sadly no longer canon), and make sure I make it to every premier the night of. The Last Jedi, came out a few days ago, and I was able to watch it with my dad. In the movie (no spoilers), there is a moment when all hope is gone, our group of misfits (also the reason I love Star Wars) has converged together and the odds are overwhelmingly against them. People have died, they are out of options, and the enemy has them cornered. In their moment of distress, they look towards the stars for a savior to come. Every Star Wars has a moment it seems like hope is gone, but the small few decide to have faith and the “force” provides a way. Isn’t that a beautiful picture of Jesus, and as my pastor pointed out yesterday, that’s the Christmas story. Hope seemingly gone in the midst of struggle, and God makes a way. He sends hope in the form of a child, completely unexpected, yet absolutely necessary. In Star Wars, they talk about how the Jedi religion is flawed, but the “force” is not. In our lives, religion isn’t the answer, the savior is. Our savior is the one true hope, a new hope you might say, in our lives surrounded by struggle.
Our salvation doesn’t come from a set of rules to follow, it comes from a child, born in a manger, persecuted until his death when he took on our sins so we didn’t have to pay the price. That is why we have hope, no matter what comes our way.
In answered prayers, break a piñata.
The tradition I talked about earlier, at the last house, you break a piñata in celebration. Isn’t that wonderful? In a tradition looking at the unopened doors Mary and Joseph dealt with, we celebrate the final inn, that could only spare a stable out back. We celebrate because even though our prayers aren’t always answered by what we desire, God’s plan is so much bigger and better, so of course we should celebrate, we should break a piñata because that’s what real worship looks like. It’s the Ewok drum circles at the end of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, it’s the piñata breaking to get the fun candy, and it’s the worshiping at the top of your lungs when you’ve walked through hell and Jesus carried you through it. No matter the struggle or pain you are dealing with, loss of a loved one, depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug addictions, infertility, self-harm and self-loathing, eating disorders, and a vast array of struggles we face; Jesus stands taller than all of it. He came to save us, the broken and lost, and because of that, we can celebrate his great love.
I know this week and even this Christmas, might be very hard for you as it is for many. Always know that you are so worth loving. God sent his son to die and rise again to save you. He loves you and has a purpose over your life to do great things. The word Emmanuel means “God with us,” so this Christmas time remember God is with you. In your good days and bad days, he will never leave you, so trust him. Have your hope in him, and he will not fail you. Even if it means doors are shut and your prayer is answered by going to the stable, God will watch over you and guide you in all things. Have fun this Christmas season, don’t freak out in the traffic of last minute shopping, go see Star Wars and experience a beautiful picture of Jesus (It’s also a pretty well-done movie to beat!), and remember that your hope can be placed in one who will not fail.
Place your hope and trust in Jesus, and he will be with you, always.
Author’s note: I spoke on depression today, and when I mention it, I know how dark life can seem. I know that you feel alone and hurt, but there is hope. There is always someone there for you and I never want you to feel like you have no other option. If you are feeling suicidal thoughts, I want you to call this number (844) 359-6685
There is always hope, and your life has value. You are so worth loving.