If it is going to happen, this is the day when it does – the day after Christmas. What am I talking about? I’m talking about post Advent blues. It is the let-down we experience when all the gifts have been opened, all the special food (including Christmas cookies) eaten, all the guests have gone, and we are left with wrapping paper and ribbon strewn across the floor and empty spaces which only yesterday were filled with family and friends, shown up for the purpose of celebrating the adventful day we call Christmas.
It is in this post Advent quiet that my focus turns unbidden to what I didn’t receive this Christmas, that I had been hoping to receive. I had been so busy enjoying the blessings of family and friends that truthfully, I noticed no lack at the time. But now, with time to compare others’ holiday happenings with my own, I become convinced that I have a lack rather than an abundance.
How quickly this happens! I shift my gaze from thankfulness for what I’ve been given to resentfulness over what I perceive as my lack. In so doing, I miss all the joy that is mine in these moments of abundance. As I sat in the sanctuary surrounded by Christmas lights and Christmas carols, I thought of loved ones I was missing. Some due to death, some due to distance – but their presence is missed just the same.
I feel their absence even as I eagerly expect that magical gift that will change my life – if only I knew what it was – if only someone would give me such a gift this Christmas, so I don’t have to spend another year waiting for someone to give me the ultimate gift – the gift that will fulfill me and make all my dreams come true.
What did I not get this Christmas that has left me as empty as the now unwrapped boxes that only yesterday held gifts unknown, full of mystery, suspense and promise? I was hoping for what? – things that don’t come in boxes because they can’t be bought? Reconciliation with a loved one? Picture perfect kodak moments? Time with those who are precious to me? Memories of Christmases past that cannot be recreated? Those things others possess that have eluded me?
When I am looking at what I lack, I am not focused on all the good gifts of God that fill my life to overflowing every day. And they are many, too numerous to count.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)
The gifts of Advent, peace, joy, hope and love are all mine in abundance. The gift that will change my life forever, fulfill me and never leave me empty, (nor never leave me) has been given in Jesus, God’s gift to me and to the world. Wrapped in swaddling cloths, this gift, once unwrapped turns out to be the gift of forgiveness for my sins and of eternal life with my Heavenly Father. No empty boxes left to leave me feeling as empty as they are, only an empty tomb – which leaves me filled with joy, peace, love and hope. Hope because the tomb is empty. And because the tomb is empty, you and I can be filled with joy that our Savior lives and the hope that He is coming again to get us, so that we can be with Him for eternity.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in Me. In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
There may be many gifts I didn’t get this Christmas – gifts that I thought would make my life better if I received them. But as I reflect on the disappointment of earthly gifts which never live up to their promise, I rejoice in the gift of Christmas that does not disappoint in the least but exceeds expectations in every way. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for sending us Jesus.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20)
“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.” (Isaiah 49:23)
Jesus – more than I could ever ask or imagine – the One who does not disappoint – the One who holds my hope
sincerely, Grace Day