BY THETUS TENNEY
Man’s mind is a significant arena for emotions. The constant tug-of-war between what we ought to do and what we do and between how we ought to feel and how we feel interjects into the maze of life confusion compounded with guilt. Psychiatrists and psychologists agreed that the Christmas holiday season is one of the peak times for emotional problems.
Memories of carefree childhood holidays compared with the pressures of the adult world of the holiday season cause confusion by the paradox of how we think we should feel with how we really feel. Peaceful and happy holiday scenes and melodious strains of “sleep in heavenly peace” contrast drastically with the hectic holiday pace, the late hours, the pressures and frayed nerves. However, a real look at the first
Christmas reveals a great similarity of that day with today.
Consider the first Christmas. It consisted of two people under immense pressure who trusted and believed for a long time before they saw the proof of their faith. They were vulnerable to criticism, hurts, and misunderstandings among their friends and family. They fellowshipped with fear and lived with pressure.
Many strange stories circulated and strange events happened. Zacharias lost his ability to speak after a strange spiritual experience. Old Elizabeth carried a baby with the dangers of delivery of a first baby
at her age. Much talk and strained, strange expectations for an unknown, yet long-awaited outcome caused much tension. With much political and ecclesiastical unrest, and corruption, along with the
economic pressures, what was the explanation for their position in current events? Were they not God’s chosen people?
Then the “last straw” was added to their already stressful life by federal intervention-a census involving an involuntary, hard trip at an inconvenient time with an additional tax on a strained budget. How will
these two very human people survive this season? As they topped the last hill, Bethlehem looked good-a little respite was in sight. However, they found no rooms. Further complications soon developed in
the form of real physical pain. Lonely, rejected, depressed, desperate-where was God in all of this? The promises given, “You are favored of God”, “God is with you”, “The Holy Ghost is doing a work”, were far-off voices from a peaceful past that had come to them uninvited and had interrupted their lives. The angels were long gone; where was God in all of this confusion? He was there in the middle of it, “Emmanuel, God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God interjected Himself into the mainstream of human life. Without reluctance and with human form His substance, Our God and Savior came, and Jesus was His name.
One of the important aspects of Christmas is that the first Christmas involved normal people coping with all of the conflicts of life, and God came right into the middle of it. So at Christmas time, with pressures, problems, and fears, we are often surrounded with strange, unexplainable, not-easy-to-see-God-in events. We are confronted with economic pressure and governmental uncertainty. In many ways we are
forced to wait long for our trusts, faith, and belief to come to reality. The necessary risks are sometimes frightening. In the course of events we become weary and wondering, we ponder and are encouraged,
we suffer back-sets and become confused, we are familiar with loneliness, rejection, and pain. But take heart-He is still Emmanuel, God with us-in the middle of it all.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE LOUISIANA CHALLENGER, DECEMBER 2002. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.