Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Reminders From An Iranian Prison

"He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree." - Roy L. Smith

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We’re just two days away from Christmas and, if I’m honest, I’m not feeling much of the “Christmas Spirit”. I still haven’t finished gift shopping, I’ve avoided Christmas parties like they were dentist appointments and I’ve felt more like Bill Murray’s character in "Scrooged" than Will Ferrell's Buddy the Elf.

It’s not usually like this. I usually love this time of the year and all that comes with it -- even the mediocre overrated holiday drinks at Starbucks that everyone pretends to like (I’m looking at you, peppermint mochas and gingerbread lattes). 

Since Thanksgiving, my mind has been in 2015 -- as if once January 1 comes around everything will magically be different. I’ve been spending the last few weeks trying to recalibrate my life, obsessed with trying to make plans for 2015, so much so that I feel like my head and my heart skipped over Christmas and right into New Year’s.

But if I truly want to recalibrate my life, if I really want God to move in my life and fix my mess and heal my wounds, I can’t skip Christmas. I can’t miss what God did and what He is still doing through that Christmas night over 2,000 years ago.


For the third straight Christmas, Pastor Saeed Abedini will not be spending Christmas with his family. Abedini, who has been unjustly imprisoned in Iran since 2012, wrote a heartbreaking Christmas letter from the prison cell where he is currently being held.

Thousands of miles away from his family and living in deplorable conditions, he writes about how hard it is to sleep because of the bitter cold, how his fellow prisoners don’t like him for converting to Christianity from Islam and being a pastor, how he has faced threats and hostile behavior from guards for his faith and how he is completely without his family.

It’s hard to read, and yet what he writes afterwards struck me:

“These cold and brittle conditions have made me wonder why God chose the hardest time of the year to become flesh and why He came to the earth in the weakest human condition (as a baby). Why did God choose the hardest place to be born in the cold weather? Why did God choose to be born in a manger in a stable, which is very cold, filthy and unsanitary with an unpleasant smell?”

Nothing illustrates Jesus as Immanuel, which means “God is with us”, greater than this. The fact that Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and the savior of the world, who could have entered the world in any way, chose to come like this. 

God is with us in our mess and brokenness. He is with us when we feel like we are on our own. He is with us when times are good and when they aren’t. God is with us always, and His presence is the ultimate gift. 

He reached down in order to heal our broken lives, to bring us comfort and peace and joy, show us mercy and grace, and shower us with an everlasting love and compassion that knows no end. That is very good news, and that is what Christmas is all about. 

1 comment :

  1. God talk to us on different ways, your blog was one of them. Thanks!!!!