Peace family, Christmas is a time of joy, but I’ve had a lot of pain at and around Christmas from different events during the last several years. If you are struggling this Christmas, I want you to know that you are not alone.
As believers in Christ, we can still feel the deep joy that we have in knowing that God came to us, to live among us, to save us, and there are many additional fun things about the holidays, but that doesn’t make our pain completely go away. One year, I didn’t even have the heart to take my tree down until almost Valentine’s Day. I needed that visual “hug” to encourage me and to add cheer to my home. My heart didn’t feel so cheerful and I felt too weak to put away that added brightness, even after Christmas was over. There is a lot to be joyful about during Christmas, and even if we’re hurting, we can keep our eyes open for those small, beautiful things and embrace them.
One thing I like to do every year, is to buy a special Christmas ornament that is symbolically relevant to that year. One of the ornaments I bought this year, is an oyster, decorated with faux pearls and diamonds. It is a reminder to me that God can take all of my pain and make it into something beautiful (like pearls), and take all of my pressures to refine me into something amazing (like diamonds.) When I look back at the different symbolic ornaments on my tree, it is a reminder and a testament to God’s faithfulness to me over the years.
Christmas songs can also be a source of encouragement. Several years ago, the phrase “tidings of comfort and joy” from God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen comforted me a lot, and this year, the words that have really stood out to me are “joyful and triumphant” from O Come All Ye Faithful.
I know it’s hard to balance joy and grief many times, and we shouldn’t feel like we have to be jolly when that’s not how we feel. But this scripture touched me, and I thought hopefully it might touch you, too, ““Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”-Nehemiah 8:10
It encourages me to remember that it’s not my own joy, but the joy of the Lord, that I can fall back on for my strength this Christmas. Unlike mine, his joy is limitless and pure. I can still enjoy good food, and be generous to the poor. I can claim the strength to be found in God’s joy, in order to make it through.
Peace family, if you are in pain this year, don’t let it make you feel like a failure. We can use that extra softness of heart to honor God and draw closer to him.
As we look at bright stars in the cold, December sky, Christmas lights on homes and trees, and flickering candles and fireplaces, what better time of year is there to remember that Jesus is a light shining in the darkness? Let those lights remind you that he is a light in our dark world, and he will bring light and comfort to your personal darkness as well.