Inevitable, it is. Red and green adorn everything- sometimes a stylish white and gold expression, instead. Christmas villages, winter wonderlands, and nativity scenes are carefully curated. Coffee shops, stores, streets, and houses boast decor- basking in the glory of “the most wonderful time of the year.” I cracked a smile as I looked at the world around me, painted in hues of holiday cheer and vibrant celebration. Then my mental, rear-view mirror took me back to life at this time, three years ago – a time less than glorious, hardly cheerful.
I considered, for a moment, how planning for the perfect gift for my dear friend unexpectedly turned into planning the perfect funeral for him- just five days shy of Christmas. Laughs turned into ugly cries. Comfort turned into chaos. Excitement turned into dread. The presents that year were abundant, but so were the unanswered questions.
There are heavy hearts surrounding us, right this moment. Hearts that are heavy in this otherwise “light” season. Hearts that are blind to the reds, the greens, the white and golds – only able to see darkness. The approaching of the holiday season does not transform their tough realities. There is still a family member they will miss, still a disease they will have to fight, still an addiction they will have to battle. Another hungry day and cold night awaits them. The struggle to provide gifts (or basic necessities) for their family grows more evident. And as many of these people look at the happiness of the world that surrounds them, they suffer silently. Many feel the need to blend, to be “okay”. But regardless of the countless smiles that they force, the pain sits stubbornly on the inside.
“Tis the season to be jolly!”… I pondered whether or not I was able to “be jolly” in my dark, Christmas season, past. I didn’t have a 100% “happy heart”, but there was something that sustained me- joy. In the midst of unpleasant emotions and bleak circumstances, the Lord helped me to rejoice. Rejoicing wasn’t the result of pretty decorations and sweet gifts. It didn’t come through being surrounded by loved ones or being comforted with cards expressing sympathy. I rejoiced in the fact that Christmas symbolizes the one gift to this world that can provide an everlasting peace- Jesus Christ.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
The truth embedded in this scripture will not make your outward circumstances change. But truly believing in this promise will give you something to be joyful about. Hallelujah! A Savior was born into this world to give us abundant life on Earth and the hope of Eternity in Heaven! A Savior was born to fulfill God’s perfect plan for our lives! A Savior was born so that no earthly trial or tribulation can steal our eternal joy!
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
My friend, if this time of year is not filled with all “feel goods” and happy thoughts in your world, it is okay. This Christmas may be cheerful for me, but my hard Christmas past will forever be a vivid memory. Never let anyone make you feel guilty for acknowledging that difficult things can dim the glee of the holiday season . Even if you can’t seem to find joy and peace in the comfort food, gifts, or your loved ones- I encourage you to rejoice at the thought of the miracle that Christmas truly represents.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
The prophecy was fulfilled. Christ was born of a virgin. He walked in this world without spot or blame. And He died to bear the burden of sin and grant salvation if believe. So in the midst of your sorrow, REJOICE, my friend! When life’s circumstances change, this truth will remain the same.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
Remain hopeful. Stay anchored. Refuse to sink.