Many people who feel this mixture of blessing and pain at Christmas resonate with Charlie Brown when he laments:
"I think there must be something wrong with me Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents, and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."
When we voice these honest feelings, there is often a Linus close by to say:
"Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right, of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest."
Do you feel like the 'Charlie Browniest' person this Christmas?
Maybe you're sick - either with a cold or flu that's keeping you down, or cancer that the doctors say will eventually take you down. Maybe you were diagnosed with some disease or syndrome that will stay with you for the rest of your life and you're trying to come to terms with your "new normal." Maybe you're dealing with the loss of a loved one through death, divorce, or a breakup. Maybe you lost your job, or didn't get the dream job you wanted and prepared for your whole life. Maybe you thought you would be more successful or further along your "5 Year Plan" than you are, and it's causing you to spiral into a pit of pity and despair.
It's at times like these that it is clear that there is something broken with our world. Things aren't as they should be. We want relief from sorrow and pain - but more than that we desire for things to be made right. We crave wholeness.
That wholeness doesn't come just because the calendar says December 24 or December 25. Jesus Christ came to earth to bring the wholeness we crave. He came to bring wholeness instead of brokenness - to bring reconciliation instead of alienation.
The author of life entered the story at Christmas. The infinite God became the infant child. And this child was named Jesus, "for he will save his people from their sins." It is this incarnate coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ that we remember at Christmas.
For those of us who love and follow Jesus, we remember. We remember that Jesus came humbly, lived perfectly, died sacrificially, and rose victoriously for our sake. We remember that Jesus inaugurated the Kingdom of God. Though we don't just remember, we also wait in expectation.
We wait for our Lord's next coming, when he will bring wholeness. When he brings the Kingdom, which is here already, to it's consummation. When he gives us bodies that will not get sick or break down. When we will be living on a new earth that does not quake or bring destruction. When he wipes away every tear from our eyes and we will be with him forever. We get to participate in that Consummated Kingdom by submitting to the King through repentance of sin and belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is with our eternal hope in mind that even the Charlie Browniest of us can prayerfully sing "Come, thou Long expected Jesus" this Christmas.