The Christmas season can be really rough when you’re fighting cancer or grieving great loss. I remember the beginning of my cancer battle on December 23, 2002. I was recovering from a rough surgery to remove a large mass of an unknown cancer from under my arm. The next day, while still feeling the anesthetic and loaded up on pain pills, I forced myself to attend church on Christmas Eve. This was after all the church I had planted and pastored for 12 years. I wanted me and everyone to feel … normal. But normality had gone, and I should not have gone that evening.
My doctor called the next day on Christmas Day to deliver my diagnosis. He was heading out of town for a break and had to wait for the pathology report himself. Still, it remains a painful memory – it “ruined” my Christmas. Then I knew I needed to pick up the phone to tell my parents and siblings that I too had melanoma. I say “too” because my dad was in his last weeks fighting the same disease – metastatic melanoma.
Now I share all of this to connect with those of you who won’t be going to holiday parties or church or who are even in the hospital reading this. You might feel like everyone’s having fun and enjoying themselves and you’re left out and hemmed in to loneliness and darkness. I felt those feelings that Christmas in 2002. But there’s hope – lot’s of it. I so I want to try to help you and me focus on the most important thing about the Christmas season and life, Jesus. Isaiah 9:2 says,
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them.
This passage is part of one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry about Christmas, or about anything really, from Isaiah 9:1-7. It sets the context of the oppression and burdens that the people were under when Jesus was born into their country. Yet we too can experience His light and the release from burden and oppression from Jesus! So I want to unwrap this incredible gift of a Person from this passage to help us focus on what it’s all about. Drawing from Isaiah 9:6 & 7 (below in red), I intertwine some brief commentary on what He means or can mean to us (in green).
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;”
Jesus is the Father’s beloved child and Son whom He joyfully gifts to us to become our Savior, Lord, Brother and Friend! Quite a lot of hats He wears and He wears them all extremely well. He is the very best gift God could have ever given!
“And the government will rest on His shoulders;”
He’s got broad shoulders and can carry every load. In this day of flawed leaders, He is and will be the perfect leader of all nations and all beings – including the angels!
“And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,”
He knows exactly what we need. He knows how to let us know what we need. He knows how to teach us to cope while we wait.
He is not a merely a man who understands us, but He willingly shares His Divine power to enable us to cope with humanly impossible circumstances, like cancer, like grief.
He’s been around forever so He knows how to parent and provide for you and I, His dearly beloved children.
“Prince of Peace.”
He instills, even installs, His perfect peace into our innermost being. He’s the author of the peace which surpasses understanding. It doesn’t make sense to most people!
So though your life might be very difficult right now, seek to set your focus on THE gift, Jesus Christ, and what He has done for you and how much He loves you. You may just find that this Christmas is the deepest and most meaningful of your life!