Have you noticed there’s a lot of pressure to be joyful during the Christmas season?
With phrases like “Joy to the World,” “Merry and Bright,” and “Happy Holidays” being spoken everywhere we turn, it’s no wonder depression can set in.
Sure, it’s easy to be merry and bright when life is good and you’re surrounded by family and love and warmth. But the reality is, not everyone experiences warm fuzzies this time of year.
Loss can be magnified, a diagnosis can turn your world upside down, and strained relationships can seem even more distant when “peace on earth” is the expectation.
You might wonder, “How can I celebrate Christmas when I’m hurting so deeply?”
Can I let you in on a secret?
Jesus didn’t come for the people with perfect lives and pious facades. He came for the hurting and broken. The left behind and forgotten.
In fact, that’s how He came into this world—in a cave intended for animals. A last resort that was far from comfortable and the opposite of excessive.
From the moment He was born, He sent a message to the world. He wasn’t here for those who wanted someone powerful and extravagant to worship. He was here for those who wanted someone to meet them in their pain.
This Son of God who could have stayed in His heavenly paradise chose to come to earth for you.
What is your hard place right now? What circumstance makes you cringe when you hear the words “jolly,” “merry,” or “joyful”?
Can I suggest four steps to renew your hope?
1. Be honest with God.
While the world might pressure you to be happy this time of year, don’t put the mask on with God. He already knows what you’re thinking and feeling. He wants you to be real with Him and look to Him for comfort.
2. Find someone else who understands.
With all the merriment around you, it might feel like you’re the only one struggling. I promise you’re not. Reach out to a trusted friend in whom you can confide. Or perhaps look for a support group in your area (grief support, cancer support, divorce care, etc.). Churches are a great place to start when searching.
3. Soak up God’s Word.
Particularly read the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) for reminders of Jesus’s life on earth. You might even want to track or mark the passages where He experienced a human struggle or met someone hurting and broken.
4. Help someone else.
One of the best ways to move from broken to hopeful is by helping someone else who’s hurting. If you’re facing loneliness and grief, you might serve a Christmas meal at a local homeless shelter. If you’re facing illness, perhaps you could put together a gift basket for someone else in the hospital. (This post has a list of gift ideas.)
Most importantly, remember that you’re not alone this season.
Not only are there other hurting people around you, but there’s a God in heaven who is much closer than you might think.
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities… — Hebrews 4:15a, AMPC
This same High Priest planned the Christmas holiday long before you were born. He chose to become fully man in the form of an innocent baby. To arrive not with pomp and circumstance, but with humble beginnings.
To understand and feel your struggle.
The secret to renewing your hope isn’t found in forced holiday cheer. It’s found in centering your vision on HIM.
May you sense His presence in the coming days.