By Pastor Sam Kiser of Crossroads Church

No one wants to be alone during the holidays.

It starts differently for all of us. You can prolong it, but sooner or later the reality will set in. For some it starts with Thanksgiving. For others it’s the thrill of Black Friday, or maybe for you it’s when Christmas music begins dominating the radio all day, every day. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Whether it’s the sounds of jingle bells or the “Home Alone” movie marathon, it will eventually sink in that it’s Christmas time.

Let’s be honest. For some of us, the Christmas season isn’t always easy. As the years go by life happens, and how we view this particular time of year becomes increasingly complex.

It’s no longer just the thrill of presents under the tree or the big Christmas dinners with the family; it’s the complexity of jobs and travel, and the phone call that says, “I’m sorry, Mom, we won’t be coming home for Christmas this year.” It’s also splitting family time between divorced parents. This time of year accentuates the harsh reality of losing a loved one and how this will be the first Christmas without them. 

Christmas lights can do more than light up the night sky; they often illuminate the sting of loneliness in our lives.

The Christmas season may be a source of despair, but it’s in the Christmas story that we can find hope. Matthew, a friend of Jesus, tells us a story of a confused man and a young woman caught up in a divine scandal. 

Joseph is a good man engaged to Mary, but rumors and disbelief have taken a toll on him. His fiancée is a virgin, but she is carrying a child? How can this be? Joseph decides not to put her to shame publicly and instead decides to divorce her quietly. 

But then, confronted by an angel, Joseph is told that this child is from God. The child is to fulfill a promise God made long ago, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”

In the middle of this scandal, in the middle of this moment of despair and confusion, God declares that He is with us.

This season can be the source of much heart ache, but it is this story that gives us the antidote for the season’s sadness. The story reminds us that in the middle of it all, God is with us. This is what separates Jesus from all others. 

The Christmas story is not meant to be a road map or a travel guide that helps us get to God. The Christmas story is the announcement that God came to us. That is good news. God is not absent from our pain; He is there in the middle of it. It’s this season and this story that remind us that we are not alone. This is why the books of the Bible that contain this story are referred to as the Gospels. Gospel simply means good news. The good news is, God is with us.