Monday, December 24, 2012

God Is Not Dead, Nor Doth He Sleep

I heard the bells on Christmas Day their old familiar carols play
And wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.

Every Christmas, tragedy strikes somewhere.

(Talk about an attention-grabbing opening line, yes?)

I know I sound terrifically morbid when I say that, but morbid or no, it's absolutely true.  Truth is morbid sometimes.  And the truth is that many people suffer from hurt, pain and loss at the holiday season.  Of course, pain and loss come all year round--they're not just confined to Christmas--but sometimes it seems to me that it all becomes much more acute at Christmastime.

I'm not just rambling here-- I speak from experience.  My family has lost many relatives at Christmastime over the years, and it seems that every year we know someone who's suffering a loss of some kind.  We all know about the unspeakable tragedy that took place in Connecticut a few weeks ago.  And we ask why? Why do these things have to happen at all, let alone at a time that's supposed to be so joyful?

Then in despair I bowed my head.  "There is no peace on earth," I said.
"For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men."

Peace on earth?  Can we truly sit calmly in churches and sing serenely about such a thing when there are wars and rumors of wars in the Middle East, when loved ones are dying and kindergartners are being murdered?  Seriously?

It was as if an earthquake rent the hearth-stones of a continent, 
And made forlorn the households born of peace on earth, good will to men.

And yet where in the familiar passage from Luke does it say that the "peace on earth, good will to men" is from men?  Where does it say that Christmastime brings peace to all people comes from people?  Where does it say that war will cease and tragedy will cease and death will cease at Christmastime?

It doesn't.

Rather, the angel's words go like this: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." The good will toward men is from God in the highest, a supreme act of good will manifested in sending His Son to an undeserving race of sinners.  Nowhere in the Scripture does it say that Jesus' birth marked the end of suffering in this world.  No, in fact, Jesus Himself clearly stated in John 16:33, "In this world you will have tribulation."

How cheery.  Merry Christmas, everyone.

And yet...

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep, "God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.
"The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men."

It's all right there in that one little phrase: God is not dead, nor doth he sleep.  When the Son of God was brutally killed and put in a grave, He did not die forever.  He rose again to bring the second part of John 16:33-- "...but be of good cheer: I have overcome the world."

This world is filled with evil.  Evil brought on by the human race, evil continued ever since the Fall in the hearts of men.  True peace on earth will never come by human workings.  Good will to men from other men is paltry at best.  Only God can make the wrong fail and the right prevail.  Only He can turn weeping into dancing.  Only He possesses the oil of joy for mourning, for He came to preach deliverance to the captive and bind up the brokenhearted.

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here.
And drive away the shades of night
And pierce the clouds and bring us light.
Rejoice, rejoice!
Immanuel has come to thee, O Israel.


Mabel said...

Beautiful. x

Mal said...

I love how powerful that line is: "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!" I've played this song with my church band, and I heard it from the congregation last Sunday, and it just gave me chills. My preacher gave the story behind the song and tied it into his sermon about peace, so that was cool :)
Merry Christmas!
-mal :)

Jenn said...

Beautifully stated. I lost my dad 6 weeks before Christmas 3 years ago and I feel it every year. But I try to stay focused on God & the meaning of Christmas.

Isabel Azar said...

What a heavenly post!