Christmas Joy, Even When You’re Hurting

Broken ornamentIt’s hard to feel Christmas cheer if you’re still reeling over sickness or the recent loss of a loved one. Sometimes, until we heal, the full holiday effect is just too much for our wounded spirits. If the whole “Christmas experience” is overwhelming to you, try narrowing your celebration down to simple worship of God for the gift of His Son.

True Christmas is all about Him instead of us…it need be nothing more. We make it far too complicated because we center its significance on people, not God.  I hear people say all the time, “Christmas is all about the kids.”  Well, it isn’t.  It’s about Jesus.  If it’s not, we’re setting ourselves up for cruel disappointment. Kids will grow up and leave home.  Sometimes loved ones die.  Divorce happens.  A lost job will leave your pockets empty with nothing under the tree–if you can even afford the tree!  When the people and things we love leave us or let us down, it crushes our love for the season; but when we focus on Him, however, as rightly we should, other things are smaller and less significant in comparison. Please don’t despair, for paring down your expectations and shifting your priorities can make this season a time of joy again. Your return to sincere worship will not only shut out the noise of the things that cause you pain, but your Heavenly Father actually hovers close to those who praise Him.

We had a significant loss in our family several years ago; a close loved one taken unexpectedly, whose funeral was on Christmas Day. After some very difficult, painful Christmases to follow, we eventually learned that healing came when we narrowed our focus back to Jesus.  In His rightful place, He set all things right again.

In most cases, we can’t avoid the other stuff entirely. There will be little kids to buy for, that kind of thing…but if you’re going through a time when the season is just too painful, don’t immerse yourself in the part that drags you down. Don’t sit and listen to sad old songs–and if memories cause you to be depressed, stay away from them until feelings aren’t so raw.  Leave the photo albums on the shelf, and don’t get out those keepsake Christmas ornaments which only cause you to cry and feel heavy-hearted.  There will come a day again when these things won’t weigh 500 pounds on your shoulders.  It’s not sacrilegious if you choose this year not observe the Christmas built on traditions of men!  You don’t have to hang lights or put up a tree, or watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” on TV in order to be observing Christmas! Don’t take yourself into the places where you haven’t healed; that’s just a punishment you don’t deserve, especially now. Take a break from that part of this season and just go back to Jesus. There’s no sadness associated with His birth, and that’s where our true celebration begins. Peace will permeate the hurt places in your life.

Make your Christmas all about Him this year (and every year), and other things will take their rightful place in the mix. With Him as the centerpiece of this holy day, you need never hate or dread Christmas again. All the other things which make it a dreadful time for some–shopping nightmares, stress, shortage of money, painful memories–these have nothing to do with Jesus. Stay focused on Him. The pure simplicity of His birth doesn’t require anything more than a grateful heart; so whatever else tries to crowd out your Christmas spirit, push it away from the center of your life and just rest, like the baby in the manger, in the infinite goodness of a God Who was willing to give His very best–for YOU.

Today’s Scripture:  “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  Isaiah 26:3 TNIV

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