The holiday season is now upon us and for some that means the enjoyment of Christmas music, gifts and gathering together with family. For others, however, the holidays can be a dark and depressing …
The holiday season is now upon us and for some that means the enjoyment of Christmas music, gifts and gathering together with family. For others, however, the holidays can be a dark and depressing time. People feel their loneliness in greater measures during this time. Loved ones are especially missed. Suicide attempts spike. Why can the holiday season be so difficult for some?
This is a complex topic that involves a multiplicity of answers, but we can begin to uncover an answer when we reflect upon the way God made us. We were made for meaningful relationships. When God made Adam in the Garden of Eden, he said that it was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Even in paradise with God, God said that it was not good for humans to be alone. God’s solution to this was to place Adam in a family, bringing him a wife. We were made to belong in committed, stable families where there is mutual love, respect, and belonging.
We were also made for other deep, meaningful relationships. Think about how important being part of our community is. Think about how important it is to have a sense of unity in your job. Oftentimes, your company will put on a Christmas party in order to increase the sense of community between everyone in the company. Even the introvert cannot help but get online and check up on what’s happening in the world of social media.
After sin entered the world, however, our relationships have been radically changed. Families are often torn apart, commitments are readily broken and relationships are filled with conflict. Therefore, those with broken families are especially reminded of the deep divisions and instability that exist during this time where we are to gather together. Those without family or any meaningful relationships are made all the more aware of their lack during this season.
A deeper answer, however, lies in the one for whom we were ultimately made. We were made for communion with God. This is the whole purpose of our existence: to live with God and for God. This is clear from the fact that God and man used to dwell together in the Garden of Eden and that God himself gave Adam work by which to serve him. But Adam and Eve were expelled from God’s presence on the day they sinned. Ever since then, we have been separated from the one for whom we were made. We have lost our ultimate purpose of living with God and for God. This has left a deep void that can never be filled unless this relationship is restored. A well-known Christian teacher from the fifth century AD, named Augustine, once said, “Oh Lord our God, we were made for you, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”
Christmas, however, is also the time to hear and reflect upon the solution that God himself has provided. God himself came down to earth in the person of Jesus. Without ceasing to be God, he was born a true and full human. He came to reconcile us to God by living a perfect life of obedience to the law in the place of sinners so that they could rely on that perfection to stand before God simply by trusting in Jesus. Jesus also died in the place of sinners in order to pay for the penalty of sin in full and remove the sin that separated sinners from God. It is by Christ’s substitutionary life, death and his resurrection that those who believe in him are reconciled to God. Not only does this restore the ultimate relationship with God, it also brings those who believe into a forever family — the church — where believers are committed to one another and increasingly love and serve one another by grace.
While Christmas can be a dark time for many because of the fallen world we live in, it also reminds us of the everlasting light and joy that God gives as a free gift to whoever believes in him.
(Brian Onstead is the pastor of Trinity Bible Church in Powell.)