Picture these Christmas images:
- Multitudes of people frantically scrambling around in search of last minutes gifts; often times spending more money than they can really afford to spend.
- A house decked out in lights with a yard loaded to the hilt with decorations which illuminate the entire block, a la the Clark Griswold home in Christmas Vacation.
- Wild office parties or family get-togethers with varieties of food and beverages to go along with loads of fun and laughter.
- A family down on their luck with stacks of bills to pay, rent that’s overdue, a bank account that’s overdrawn, and no money to buy food for Christmas dinner or presents for their young children.
- The man or woman whose family is half-way across the country leaving them alone and lonely during holidays with no family or friend to celebrate with.
- Someone facing their first (or even another) Christmas when their mom, dad, sister, brother, wife, husband, daughter, or son is no longer with them because they passed away.
On the surface, Christmas can be a time of immense joy or deep sorrow. It can be the highest of highs, or the lowest of lows. It can bring about great happiness, or great sadness.
All of these feelings are real. All of these feelings are valid. Yet, I encourage you, in the midst of those feelings, wherever you are on the spectrum, look beyond them to the real reason for Christmas.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is one of my favorite Christmas shows of all time. In it, Charlie struggles with a lot of the feelings that many of us wrestle with: Do I matter? Is Christmas just a bunch of commercialism? Why do I feel sad when I “should” feel happy at Christmas? His frustrations culminate near the end of the show with this bottom line question: “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
And like the true friend that he is, Linus answers him:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shown round about them. And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:8-14 KJV)
Christmas is about Jesus; God coming to Earth to do for us what we could not do for ourselves: bridge the gap between Him and us.
Jesus came to conquer not only sin and death, but to obliterate the power of darkness in our lives. No more sorrow, no more sadness, no more discouragement, no more disappointment, no more depression. He has made a way for us to live in hope, joy, peace, and love.
Please hear me out, as someone who lives his life more in discouragement than in hope, there is absolutely NO (zero, zilch, nada, no potatoes, zizzeroni, zamboni) condemnation if you’re not experiencing the joy that Jesus intended.
It’s a process. It’s not like a switch gets flipped and you live from a place of joy all of the time (although I’ve heard stories where that does happen). It takes time and practice to develop that relationship with Jesus, to learn to live in His joy, His rest, His peace, His hope, and His love.
My encouragement to you is this: where ever you are this season, take a moment to remember why we really celebrate Christmas. Take a look at Jesus, and take one step closer to Him than where you are now. Ask Him to bring hope, joy, peace, and love (back) into your life.
May the hope, joy, peace, and love of Jesus flood over you and renew your heart and mind as you draw closer to Him this season.