The past few months have been what is considered the “Holiday season.” More specifically, my family and I have been celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yet as anyone with a chronic illness understands, “celebrating” the holidays is a catch 22. It can be great distraction to have all of the festivities happening all around you, but then again, it is these same festivities that make you feel even more of an outcast than ever. Going to parties, shows, and get-togethers is just hard both emotionally and physically. It’s difficult to attend like a normal guest because, let’s face it, we’re not “normal” in any way, shape, or form. We can’t eat, talk, laugh, and engage like everyone else does. Our bodies are worn thin simply from trying to get through the everyday life, and when holiday madness is added to the mix, it’s easy to get discouraged, depressed, and more hopeless than ever before. That being said, as I spend my 5th Thanksgiving and Christmas being sick with the effects of chronic Lyme Disease, the reality of what this time of year truly means has become more apparent to me than ever.
No, we may not necessarily be able to enjoy all the cookies and egg nog like friends and family around us. Christmas morning you may wake up with unexplainable and extreme GI distress, joint pain and a blaring headache. It’s hard to be joyous and happy with everyone around when we feel so awful inside. However, there is something else that is far deeper and important to our being that we can experience even while battling life’s trials. Christmas isn’t about presents, sweet treats, and holiday parties. While this all may be associated with the holiday season, what Christmas is truly about is the coming of Christ Jesus in the form of a baby boy. He came with the purpose of serving and ultimately dying on the cross as a covering for our sins (Matthew e20:28). It was this act of love that gives us, and all human beings, the choice of spending eternity with Him in heaven (1 John 15:13). Though we typically choose to dwell on this event only on Easter, this act of saving grace would have never occurred unless God sent his son to the world (i.e. Christmas). So, what does Christmas really mean for those like myself battling a chronic illness (or anyone and everyone for that matter)? For starters, it means we have the promise of eternal salvation (John 10:28). It means that no matter what we go through here on earth, we will be transformed and given a new, unblemished, perfect, disease and pain-free body (Philippians 3:21). Christmas also means that even while we are here on earth, we can have inexpressible peace, hope, and comfort (Psalm 29:11, Romans 5:3-5, Romans 15:13). Ultimately, it means that we have a purpose (Proverbs 19:21), He has a plan (Isaiah 55:9), and at the end of it all, we will get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. This world is not our home (Hebrews 13:14). The cookies, eggnog, presents, and holiday parties were simply created by man as a way to find surface enjoyment and excitement. Yet we have all been created for something far greater, and through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, we can find these things. Even when our lives do not look like those around us, Christmas can serve as the perfect reminder of one of the greatest results of Jesus’ birth, and that is that we have life beyond this life because He gave His life. All in all, the only thing that can truly take away the pain and suffering we experience in this world is the gift of God’s son, and it all began with Christmas.
1 Peter 1:8-9 “Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”