I wrote this post last Christmas, but I think it's relevant for this one as well. It's easy to get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas and miss the fact that many people feel very alone and forgotten during the Christmas season. If that is you this Christmas, I pray that this post is an encouragement to you.
For many people the Christmas season is a joyous time filled with family
gatherings, way too much (good) food, and an abundance of gifts. But for some,
it’s far from the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is only a reminder
of what is missing, or broken, or not right. Christmas only highlights the fact
that they feel completely forgotten by God.
It’s easy to make that leap
if you are walking through a difficult season of your life. The external
circumstances are grim and there seems to be no relief at the end of the dark
tunnel you are staring down. If this is your life this Christmas season, you
have far more in common with the biblical characters surrounding the Christmas
story than you might think. The people who make up the birth account of our
Christ are a very unlikely cast of characters. They are an old couple who are
burdened with childlessness, a poor teenage virgin with a husband from an
obscure town, and the Savior himself—born in a manger, not a much deserved royal
palace. Christ’s descent to earth was (and still is) a loud call to all of us
that we have not been forgotten.
Consider this unlikely couple. Every external
observation implies that they are long forgotten by God. Luke tells us that
while they have asked God for a child for many years, they have now reached old
age with no child to call their own. In this culture barrenness meant certain
reproach for Elizabeth. She would be viewed by her community as defective and
unable to do the very thing she was created to do—bring life into the world.
When the women around her experienced pregnancy after pregnancy, Elizabeth was
an outsider looking into a world she couldn’t know. Zechariah surely faced
tremendous pressure also as he cared for his wife, grieved his own loss of
having no heir, and fulfilled his God-given duties as priest. While many would
give into the temptation to sin by taking the matter into their own hands, or
turning from the God who made them, we are given a small glimpse into Zechariah
and Elizabeth’s response to their lifelong infertility. They were righteous.
They entrusted themselves to a faithful God, believing in his promises to them,
and trusting that he would work good in their lives. They hoped in him alone and
believed that he was not finished with them yet.
And he wasn’t.
know from the rest of the story that God answers their prayer for a child, and
not just any child, but the child who would be the promised forerunner to the
Messiah. This old couple who waited years for God to answer their longing for a
child, now have one who plays a pivotal role in the greatest story of
history—the story of Jesus.
Mary and Joseph
the time the angel appeared to Mary, and ultimately Joseph, the people of Israel
had experienced over 400 years of silence from God. Many Jewish people died
having never witnessed any revelation, prophetic voice, or tangible act from
God. And that took its toll on God’s people. Many Israelites turned away,
determining that God’s promises could not really be true. Mary and Joseph, who
Luke tells us are righteous people, represent the faithful few. They are the
ones who held on to the Old Testament promises even when it seemed like God
would never act. It was through this seemingly insignificant girl that the
Savior would come into the world. In a cave filled with animals, in a small town
far away from home, she would give birth to the Messiah with her loyal husband
by her side. No one would have expected it from them.
And that is how God
works. He takes the forgotten, the outcast, the insignificant and shows them his
kindness and greatness by glorifying himself through them, sometimes in some of
the most surprising ways.
Christ the Savior
no one shows that we are not forgotten more than the Savior himself. Isaiah 53
“He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of
sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God,
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the
chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are
He was momentarily forgotten, afflicted, and separated from
God the Father so you would never have to be. That holy night in Bethlehem was
moving towards this very reality. Christmas is the precursor to Easter. The
incarnation proves that God keeps his promises, and the atonement on the cross
seals that promise for good, making us God’s own children. It proves that you
are not forgotten because God can never forget his own.
The wonder of
Christmas is that we weren’t forgotten. And he showed up in the lives of people
who the world viewed as forgotten and of little worth. God became man to rescue
us from our sin and bring us into fellowship with himself. He made himself
nothing, identifying with lowly and despised people to show that no one is
forgotten regardless of their circumstances. You are not forgotten this
Christmas, or anytime of the year. The manger where this little baby lay all
those years ago is proof of that