I wanted to blog weekly during the month of December so I could get the content of our Nailing Christmas class into the hands of interested parents. But I just couldn’t. There were dark days and hard truths to face first.
My nephew Samuel was born straight into the arms of Jesus on November 26, 2018. It wasn’t unexpected. He was diagnosed early in the pregnancy with an extremely rare, fatal birth defect. But still the loss of him hurts deeply and raises so many unanswerable questions. Why must a baby be destined to die?
Maybe it’s a leap but that makes me think of Christmas. The notion that an infant would be born to die is terrifying and incomprehensible–but that is exactly what Jesus came to do. Isn’t it offensive and insensitive in the face of real grief to celebrate with joy the birth of another doomed innocent? This was God’s idea? How could that be the plan? How could that possibly be for the best?
And are we even allowed to ask these questions?
God knew it was for the best because he understood our desperation. He knew we were utterly hopeless without Him. Destined to so much misery. Destined to die. All of us.
Apart from God, we trudge on in this world, foolishly denying our sin and ignoring the unavoidable grave… Until someone we love meets their inevitable end. Then we startle a bit and rage at God and the world for a while and then go back to our comfortable, willful blindness and charge headlong again toward the destiny of all mankind.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart.Ecclesiastes 7:2
I was surprised this week when I was reminded that even in the middle of our beloved Christmas scriptures we have a paragraph heading: “Slaughter of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18).” DEATH IS EVERYWHERE. It doesn’t discriminate: Rich or poor, young or old, it’s coming. It is our universally cruel, unquenchable, unstoppable enemy.
But there’s good news! And it has to do with Baby Jesus, born to die–not only just like all of us–but for all of us. The Enemy that has been swallowing up our loved ones for millennia needed to be defeated. And only the perfect Creator of Life himself would be powerful enough to accomplish that. God–our loving Father–chose a terrible destiny for His Son in order to rescue us from ours. Jesus overcame the grave. He conquered death for us. He is the way to life after death! He told us he was going to do it. He did it. And then he raised from the grave to prove it!
That is something worth celebrating even in our darkest days. So Merry Christmas!
I apologize if this seems like too morbid a post for the holidays. But I know many people find it difficult to have a holly jolly Christmas because they are deeply sad or grieving. I hope it helped to discuss death, grief, and hope in the context of Christmas and the victory that Jesus won for us because he was willing to be born to die.
(1) Did you know that just 100 years ago, ten percent of babies in the United States died before age one (100 per 1000 live births). In 2016 that rate had fallen to under 6 per 1000! Thank God that this tragedy is befalling fewer and fewer families all the time. (Source: cdc.gov).