Longing At Christmas
by Michael and Shannon Goforth
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
PORT AUSTIN, MI – At our house, you might catch us singing this classic as early as October. It has also become standard operating procedure to deck the halls the day after Halloween. Judge us all you want, but we absolutely love Christmas and everything about it. In fact, we were married on December 19th with a Christmas-themed wedding. Can you guess what song played after the preacher pronounced us husband and wife? Yup, “It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Andy Williams.
But what do you do when this time of year is not wonderful? What if this time of year reminds you of the empty seat at your table? Or the magical childhood you never had? Or the bills that seem to keep piling up? Or the trial that you are currently enduring?
As we write this, we’re reminded of several families in our church who lost loved ones this year. We know this season will be especially difficult for them. We’re also reminded of the heavy trial of our own that we’re currently walking through. To be honest with you, as much as we love Christmas, this year is difficult for us. We are struggling with infertility, and this will be our fifth Christmas of praying and hoping for a baby that God has yet to give us.
So, what do we do when this time of year is filled with longing instead of celebrating? If this is you, we want to encourage you with something: You are actually stepping into what this season is all about. Historically, Christians have referred to this season as “advent” which means “coming” or “arrival.” In other words, this season is all about waiting, longing, and yearning for the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
After thousands of years of longing and waiting, Emmanuel had finally come. This is why we celebrate Christmas. Jesus, God with us, had arrived. At his first advent, Jesus came to die for our sins and rise again so that we could be restored into a relationship with God.
Now, because of Christ, God is with us, by his Spirit. But if we’re honest, we still experience heartache, brokenness, and longing. This is because we are still awaiting an advent, the second coming of our Lord—when our Savior returns to wipe the tears from our eyes and make all things new.
So here is our challenge for you: Let the coming of that baby in a manger fill you with hope this Christmas. Why? Because he’s coming again. Like the saints of old, we wait. This waiting can be confusing, sorrowful, and sometimes unbearable. But because of Christmas, it is never without hope. God is with us, right now, in our pain. He walks with us, between these two advents. He sees every tear that we cry and ensures we are never alone. And best of all? He is coming to rescue us from this sin-cursed world. So, if you’re hurting, broken, and longing this season, let that longing point you to this glorious reality: Emmanuel has come, and He has promised to come again.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael and Shannon Goforth have been married for eight years and serve together at Mercy Hill Church in Port Austin, Michigan. They led a team to plant this church in 2016 and Michael currently serves as the Lead Pastor. Mercy Hill exists to spread a passion for the glory of Jesus in Port Austin and beyond.