Prays Together: How 2020 Tried to Steal Jesus, but Failed

We have all experienced history this year. COVID-19, a national election, riots, and non-stop media and social media coverage has left us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and burnt out. Some people lost loved ones, while others lost their businesses. We all made plans, only to have them canceled or postponed. We have all had to adapt social distancing procedures. Even with all that, this 2020 may have brought other personal challenges to you that were greater than the challenges that our society faced. It has been a historic year.

This Christmas season I have been dwelling a lot on the classic Dr. Seuss book, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” Current circumstances may not have you feeling the warm and fuzzy feelings that we are all supposed to feel during this “Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” That’s okay, because usually the secular celebration around Christmas always misses the reason why this day is so important. Just like the Grinch failed to steal Christmas in Dr. Seuss’ book, 2020 (and any other circumstances you have faced) cannot steal the historical birth of the Son of God.

I’m not someone who has enjoyed the challenges of this year. Personally, it feels like it has been five years since the initial stay at home orders in March. Complaining is not a source of strength, though. Our strength comes from remembering that God sent His Son, not to make us happy, but to make us holy. Holy people respond to adverse situations in a holy manner. They trust that God is greater than their circumstances. They don’t expect God to make things easy. They trust God for strength, endurance, peace, and joy. Their worldview is formed by God’s Word. Their worldview is not formed by our consumer driven world.

As Christians, it is important to remember God’s plan for our salvation. Instead of snapping His fingers to rid the world of all its problems, God sent His own Son, and in doing so God became man to save us from ourselves. This is where the true joy and meaning of Christmas comes from. Upon honest reflection, can any of us say that all of our thoughts are pure? Have all of our words been caring? Have none of our actions been selfish and hurtful towards others? Christmas is not about being “good for goodness sake.” It’s that God loved us so much that He sent His own Son to save us.

Despite God being able to see into the depths of your broken soul, He loved you enough to become a man and suffer a death He did not deserve to suffer. But He did it for you. He did it for me. That is true mercy, grace, and love. And it happened. The Bible is primarily a historical account that points the world to Jesus Christ as the One true Son of God. Men who ran away from Him when He was arrested and crucified. Later died preaching the resurrection of Christ. People don’t die for lies. What changed them from fearful men unwilling to die for their leader, to followers who were willing to die? They saw Christ rise again. What made Paul change from a man hostile towards Jesus’ followers to one of the greatest voices for Jesus Christ? Simple, He saw the resurrected Jesus.

2020 may have brought change to our lives, but it does not rob us of the grace received from God in the gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is our source of joy. Because of Him, I know that I will be better for enduring the challenges of this year. So will you.

Joel Luckemeyer is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church. He may be reached by calling 559-592-4070. Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church. This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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