“’Twas the Night Before Christmas” is a hot cocoa-and-popcorn-snuggle-up-in-your-footie-pajamas kind of rhyme. Christmas has associations with Currier and Ives and sleigh rides to Grandma’s house over a fresh fallen snow.
But not everyone will experience Christmas that way this year, and not everyone ever did. You will recall that the second or third Christmas of all was a time of great grieving for those living in Bethlehem. Men with weapons had entered their sleepy town quite unexpectedly and slaughtered their babies. The whole region was devastated in a single day. Is this sounding familiar?
“A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15).
The outbreak of sin at unexpected times has a way of ruining our best celebrations:
“And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry. … And David was afraid of the LORD that day …” (2 Samuel 6:5-9).
It is interesting to me that the Lord makes no apologies for ruining our celebrations. That tells me there is something here that He means us to think about. In the case of Uzzah, David had to think harder about the fact that God is holy and you do not treat Him as common. In the case of the recent events among us, the present sore spot of a grieving nation, what does God want us to think about this Christmas?
Could it be that evil is real and not a Halloween game? Could it be that evil is so real that Christmas had to happen? The night is darkest before dawn. Here is the rest of the Jeremiah passage:
“There is a hope for your future, declares the LORD …” (Jeremiah 31:17).
Press into that hope with the fullness of faith. There is not an act of Satan yet that God has not turned into something good.