By Katie Heid
The Christmas tree is finally down in my home. We’ve gorged ourselves on the remaining sweets. Tinsel and ornaments are tucked away, and the outside lights no longer illuminate the neighborhood.
Those wonderful sights of Christmas anticipation have come and gone. Now, we brace for the rest of winter. Since I live in Michigan, most of us are consuming a bottle of Vitamin D to cope with three months of gray skies, a boatload of snow, and the occasional winter drizzle. All the Paxil in the world won’t help me put up with the drama around the 10 pairs of gloves my children will inevitably lose this season.
This hard-to-pin down feeling is the “After Christmas Let-down.” It’s the space in the weeks and months following Christmas where there’s no collective holiday toward which we move. The Let-down is where the memories of a festive Christmas quickly dissipate. While Hallmark movies tell us to keep the Christmas spirit in our hearts all year long, we know that sentiment won’t sustain us when the days drag on and the anxiety of everyday living swoops in.
This anticlimactic feeling is not lost on the major players in the first Christmas story:
- The shepherds received a special message from angels; they saw Baby Jesus and could not contain their joy. When they spread the word, others accused them of drunkenness.
- The Wise Men painstakingly followed the star until it led to Mary and Joseph’s house. As they traveled back to Persia, the Wise Men took with them the joy of Jesus’ arrival, and the anxiety of not reporting their discovery to the wicked King Herod.
- Mary and Joseph obeyed God only to find themselves in peril repeatedly. They saw God provide for their needs as Mary gave birth in a stable and welcomed unlikely guests. Quickly afterwards these newlyweds fled their home in the middle of the night to escape an evil decree.
- Zechariah and Elizabeth rejoiced at the birth of their son, John. However, their minds surely wandered to thoughts of, “Will we live to see him grow up?”
Expectations lead to joy, which culminates in celebration. Sadly, collective rejoicing often leads to disappointment, fear, and malaise. It’s not because the event isn’t worth celebrating. It often has to do with people squelching our joy or downplaying the way God has worked. Let-downs also occur when we find ourselves trapped in a net of someone else’s poor decisions or face-to-face with realities which were easy to ignore in the midst of celebration.
Christmas Day celebrations have come and gone, but Hope has not. As Jesus grew and started His ministry, He emphasized eternal life, inconceivable peace, rest, strength, and Living Water which would always satisfy. These teachings were worth praising.
However, Jesus also never shied away from the sacrifice of being His followers. He habitually reminded people of the collateral damage that comes with living in a fallen world. Some would endure death and torture for His namesake. Others would undergo incredible suffering. The rest of us would deal with fear, anxiety, trauma, and the ripple effects of evil hearts. Once upon a time God created perfection. We messed it up.
That’s the ultimate Let-down.
Yet, in the space between the celebration and the Let-down, God set the stage for a party. He watched His Son grow in faith and stature. When the right time arrived, God allowed Him to be crucified to a cross bearing the sins of the world. That Let-down gave way to victory three days later in the form of an empty tomb and a risen Savior.
The Hope of God is an assurance for all seasons, even the “Let-down.”
Let Him lift you up today.
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