Celebrating Christmas Even When Life Does Not Make Sense



On Christmas day, widower Henry was taking care of his mortally wounded son, Charlie. His son was a soldier. He was shot, the bullet missing his spine by an inch, and almost got paralyzed. The doctors were divided about whether he would recover from his almost fatal wound in at least six months or he would remain a paralytic. Two years ago, his wife died due to serious burns when her dress caught on fire. In trying to save her, Henry himself got burned on the face. He had to grow a beard to hide the facial scars. He deeply grieved her death that there were times he thought he would go crazy. 

And, now as he tried to nurse his son, he heard the bells from a church nearby. Overcome with grief, Henry thought of what the angels sang the night our Lord Jesus was born: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14, ESV) 

Peace on earth. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow saw the irony as he “observed the world of injustice and violence that seemed to mock the truthfulness of this optimistic outlook.” [1]


So, “the celebrated literary critic and poet” [2] took his pen and wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” on that Christmas day in 1863. With tears flowing from his eyes, Longfellow “wrote a poem seeking to capture the dynamic and dissonance in his own heart and the world he observes around him.” [3]
And 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!” [4]

As of this writing, a total of 5,927 people were killed in our government’s war on drugs since July 1 of this year. Out of that staggering number, 2,086 were suspected drug pushers who allegedly fought back and got killed in police operations. The rest, 3,841 people, were “victims of extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings”. [5] Please don’t think that this article is pointing an accusing finger against the government. (I support the war on drugs as long as the rule of law and human rights are respected and upheld.) It is a call for all of us to reflect on the value of life. I’m not debating with anyone about which is more valuable, the life of the drug lords or the life of the drug dependents, the life of the drug dependent or the life of the rape victim.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ came to die for all. The salvation bought by His death on the cross is available for everyone. He Himself taught us how to estimate the value of a life. 
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? (Mark 8:36-37)
He did not say only the life of those who are “good” are valuable. We are all sinners, anyway (Romans 3:23). Yet, He died for all.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (5:6-8, emphasis added)
If the Lord considered human life valuable, shouldn’t we appraise it the same way?

Longfellow eventually ended his poem with “a settledness of confident hope even in the midst of bleak despair.” [6] In the midst of what’s going on nowadays in our country, even when things don’t make sense, I still believe that peace on earth and goodwill to men will become a reality in the Lord.
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.” [7]

Brothers and sisters, celebrating Christmas still makes sense.



[1] Justin Taylor (21 December 2014), “The True Story of Pain and Hope Behind ‘I heard the Bells on Christmas Day’”, The Gospel Coalition, retrieved from https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/.


[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, emphasis added.

[5] Michael Bueza (12 December 2016), “IN NUMBERS: The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’”, Rappler, retrieved from http://www.rappler.com/. 


[6] Taylor.

[7] Ibid, emphasis added.


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