Christmas can be a confusing time for many people. Often we have high hopes for the Christmas holiday, but we find it very stressful. There are so many pressures: rushing to buy gifts and their high cost, the stress of meeting relatives, or the opposite - feeling all alone.
So sadly, Christmas is a time when problems come into our lives: debt, worry, loneliness, even suicide. Somehow, it seems that there is something wrong. There is such a big contrast between the way the world spends Christmas, and the religious message which is almost forgotten. How can we make sense of Christmas today?
Mohinder's true story suggests a way
Mohinder came to England from Punjab, India 39 years ago. He lives in Birmingham, England, with his wife and children, and works as a machine operator
My friends and I stocked up with bottles of whisky and cans of beer well before the festive season, and then went from house to house getting drunk. That is how I used to spend my christmas. I knew it was celebrated to remember the birth of Jesus, but this did not mean much to me.There had always been despair and frustration in our home. I was always arguing with my wife and there was no real peace or contentment in our lives. My ambition was to earn as much money as I could and get my five children married. I thought I was happy doing this, but deep down inside I was empty and unfulfilled
My wife upset me
Then about 27 years ago, my wife became a Christian and started attending a local church where the Bible was taught in both English and Punjabi. This really upset me because I thought she had embraced an English god and changed her culture
My relatives used to ask me why she had turned to a white man's religion and left her own beliefs. Although I disliked what she had done, I started seeing changes in her life - she became honest in her ways and there was a reality in her faith
It was not until 1994 that I too found the way to God. I realised what a terrible person I had been and how I had mistreated my wife, my family and other people. I had also cursed God. I realised that in God's view, my life was wrong: I needed to be right with Him and find His forgiveness
I then began to suffer from real fear, and it was not until I turned my life over to Jesus Christ that I began to overcome this problem. I asked God to forgive me for all that I had done wrong, and that He would give me His power in my life to change me. I read that in the Bible that God promises to those who follow him, a spirit of love, power and a sound mind, not a spirit of fear. This became really true for me.
Christmas has now taken on a new meaning. There is now contentment and real joy in my heart, and there is peace in our home. We no longer argue and fight. Difficulties still come, but I know that Jesus is my friend, and He is able to help me through my problems. Even if I die, there is great hope because I will go to be with Jesus Christ. He can save and help all who trust Him, whether black, white or Asian. That is why Christmas with Christ is special.