I don’t know if you have noticed (of course you have), but our country continues to be in a pretty serious economic recession. This financial crisis has affected every area of American society and culture. Over the past several months, I have talked with a number of families and individuals who are feeling the impact – retired couples who have lost more than half of their retirement nest egg, craftsmen who have nothing left to build, real estate agents who have no buyers or sellers, and small business owners who have gone belly up. There are a good number who are facing the reality of losing their home, losing their automobiles, and to be sure, some are even having a difficult time putting food on the table.
In the midst of these challenges, we approach Christmas – the season of buying and selling and giving gifts. I think it is safe to assume that this is not good news for most of us. In fact, instead of a time of celebration and cheer, the Christmas Season may feel like a swift kick to the head of a guy who is already down. If you identify with what I’m saying, allow me to offer a word of spiritual encouragement.
First of all, let’s admit that there is not a lot we can do to change our circumstances. Our economy is in trouble and none of us can change that by working harder. Not one person that I have talked to is hurting financially because they are lazy. They are willing to work hard, but that is not the issue. No amount of hard work and ingenuity can change their situation. We are now beginning to feel the weight of our true needs. It’s not as if we didn’t have those needs before, but without the cushion of financial security, we feel those needs more deeply. Aren’t we all in desperate Spiritual need all the time? Isn’t this why we needed Jesus to “move in next door” to us, to become a man, to give His life? This Christmas season provides us with a great opportunity to worship Jesus. We are desperate. We have come to the end of ourselves. We need Jesus to dwell with us.
Secondly, let’s admit that we do not consist of the things we own or the money we have or the jobs that we do. The Scripture tells us that we are more than what we wear or what we eat. Now more than ever, we have the opportunity to feel that truth. We may not have jobs or money or financial security, but we do have our spouses, our children, our church family and most of all, we have Christ Jesus – the greatest gift that God could give us. Jesus never owned a home. Never had a savings account. The Son of Man had no place to lay his head. Yet, he was satisfied with the love of His Father. He trusted that His Father would commune with Him and ultimately would provide for Him. When He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.” Jesus makes it clear that His greatest need was not food or shelter, but His greatest need was to commune with His Father. As hard as it may seem, and as foreign as it may be to our flesh, isn’t this also true for us. We may not want to believe it. But ultimately, we need Jesus to feed us.
Finally, let’s admit that we can still celebrate this Christmas season by giving gifts of the gospel, of hope, of love and encouragement. What an opportunity we have. Jesus came into the earth as the King of Kings and gave us the greatest gift He could possibly give – He gave us Himself. He sacrificed Himself that He might give us Freedom; that He might give us Hope, that He might give us Love. Church, you can do the same. Maybe you do not have “silver or gold” but what do you have? You have the Love of Christ. You have Hope. You have Freedom. So, this Christmas season feel free to mourn over what you have lost. That is perfectly legitimate. Cry out to the Father. Cry out to Christ. Jesus mourns with you. He knows what you are going through. Do not allow your circumstances to drive you away from Christ. Instead, allow your desperation to drive you to the foot of the Cross. Yet, do not simply mourn what you have lost. Allow Christ to take you further, so that you might also celebrate what you have. You have Jesus! If the Lord has blessed you financially, give to others who are need. Give sacrificially and celebrate the Gospel. If you have no money, consider what you do have and give that. Give cheer. Give hope. Give time. Give your heart. Give your love. Remember Christian, no man is impoverished who has Christ.
O come, O come Immanuel
And ransom captive Israel
Who mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear