I’m sprawled out on the floor beneath the Christmas tree. My hands are gripping the tree’s trunk, and if I move at all, our precious evergreen will fall completely over. Sappy water will stain the carpet, and every delicate ornament will break into a thousand pieces. Tears are streaming down my face and I’m trying to restrain my anger. This is at least the third time someone has knocked over the Christmas tree this season. It is no longer humourous. In the blink of an eye and with the weight of one tiny toddler’s body, Christmas is ruined.
Good Hopes for Christmas
Okay, so it’s not completely ruined, but this is precisely how I feel as I try to determine how to fix the situation at hand. Why can’t the Christmas season just go the way I picture it in my head? My hopes for the most wonderful time of the year don’t seem too outrageous.
I hope to select, shop for, and wrap everyone’s presents by December 5, but absolutely no later than December 15.
I hope the Christmas season will include a calendar filled with elaborate dinner parties and gift exchanges and cookie-decorating extravaganzas. Oh, which will also mean I get to purchase the perfect outfit for the season.
I hope Christmas will mean evenings with my family, who will all be cuddled up under blankets in their matching pajamas, sipping hot cocoa, and quietly watching the lights twinkle on the tree while I read the Bible aloud to them in front of a crackling fire. We will all reflect upon the meaning of Christ’s birth and its implications on our lives, and my children will be fully engaged the entire time.
And I truly hope Christmas will also include the perfect Christmas family photo card, which we will send to all our family and friends. One they will never want to remove from their refrigerators because our family will look amazing. #bestchristmascardever.
My hopes for the Christmas season are really quite lovely. Don’t you think?
Misplaced Christmas Hopes Never Satisfy
We all have hopes for the Christmas season, many of which aren’t sinful. It’s a wonderful gift to have a buzzing social calendar—praise the Lord for relationships and community! Carefully made plans and thoughtful generosity are pleasing to the Lord. Family togetherness centered around God’s Word is a worthy endeavor. These good gifts light up our lives and feel life-giving. But if we place our hope in our idea of a lovely Christmas season, what will happen when it doesn’t feel lovely?
Someone gets sick, so we have to cancel our plans. Unexpected expenses cut into the funds we set aside for Christmas gifts. Children fidget during family devotions, so we throw aside our meaningful conversations because we’re tired and irritable. In the blink of an eye and with the weight of numerous inconveniences, our misplaced hopes will topple over, just like my Christmas tree. Instead of celebrating, we’ll be weeping beneath the weight of crushed dreams that were never meant to satisfy us in the first place.
Our only unshakable source of hope in the Christmas season is the light and life of Jesus Christ.
Most of us know this to be true. We agree when someone says, “Satisfaction is only found in Jesus.” So why is it so hard for us to remember that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12)? How come we can’t seem to keep it straight in our hearts that Jesus alone has the words of life (John 6:68)?
We’re distracted by glittery good gifts which lure us in and tickle our ears by overpromising life and light. Sure, these pleasures are enjoyable for a moment, but the thrill is fleeting. Every good gift will inevitably underdeliver.
A Hope that Remains
In contrast, all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Jesus, and the light and life of Christ are eternal! Jesus is the Author of life (Acts 3:15). Jesus is the true light, and his life is the light of men (John 1:4, 9). Nothing and no one else in this world can give us life and light that lasts.
So, what would it look like to set our hopes on the light and life of Christ this season?
I don’t think it means we need to ditch decorations, cancel parties, return gifts, or throw out our Christmas cards. I also don’t have a three-step, fail-proof method to offer you (sometimes I wish it were this easy). Rather, we must learn to live within the tension of being born again into God’s family and yet still being part of this world.
One way to live out our new identity in Christ is by redirecting our gaze, over and over again. Because when we continuously turn our eyes away from the things of this world and toward the identity of Jesus, the source of life and light, we will be changed. We will love what God loves and want what God wants, and our hope will be tethered to Jesus, not the good gifts he gives us.
If we’re in Christ, we don’t need to enter the Christmas season hoping for light and life in the good things surrounding us. We bring the light and life of Jesus into Christmas because the light of the glory of Christ already dwells within us (Col. 1:27). Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive. And one day he will return to bring us to our eternal home, where we will live forever within the light of his glorious presence.
Meet the Author
Lauren Washer is passionate about helping women to know and love God more through a deeper understanding of the Bible. She teaches the Bible and serves on the women’s ministry team at her local church. She and her husband Bradley live with their six children in Norfolk, VA. You can connect with her through her monthly newsletter, Hidden Treasure, or on Instagram.