By Ashley Sharp
For most, the Christmas season is the most magical time of the year and their hearts are filled with joy and laughter, but what if it isn’t? Maybe you’re looking around at the rest of the world wishing you could feel the same way, but you just can’t seem to do it. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one, maybe you don’t have the finances to give gifts to the people you love, maybe you have to be separated from someone you love when it seems that everyone else gets to be with their families and friends. Or maybe you suffer from depression, and wish that you could experience joy from a holiday that used to be delightful.
Well, to anyone who struggles with any of those things or any others, first and foremost, you need to know that you are not alone. You may feel like the only person who secretly wants Christmas to end quickly. But Christmas is a difficult time for many people, for many reasons, so there is nothing abnormal or strange about feeling that way, there should never be shame in feeling sadness. Secondly, you do not have to find your joy in a season, in decorations, in festive songs, because for believers, our joy is planted firmly in the Lord. The so-called “joy of Christmas” culturally speaking is temporary and often shallow. But the Lord offers us a joy that is not contingent on our circumstances. And it is this joy that can allow you not only to survive the Christmas season, but thrive, and celebrate during Christmas because it is the time in which we remember that God Himself entered our world in order to save a dying world from its sin. God desires for us to have joy, even in the most difficult times. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The joy of the Lord sustains believers through periods of unhappiness and gives them hope that comes only from being with Jesus.
If this season is a hard time for you, may I urge you not to isolate yourself, but rather surround yourself with people who will listen to and support you through a dark time. We were created for community, and one of the surest ways to sink deeper into sadness is to continue believing that you are all alone. Find a few trusted people to be honest with about your struggles, and allow them to speak wisdom, love, and truth into your life. And who knows, you may be surprised to find people in your life that struggle with the same things you are, or have come through it and can offer wisdom that other people couldn’t.
In this difficult season, it will be easy to drown in your own thoughts and emotions, so it is the perfect time to serve others. We can find so much joy in stepping outside of ourselves and using our time and energy to bring joy to others. So consider volunteering at your church, a local charity, visit a nursing home or hospital. Showing the love of Jesus to others allows us to experience the joy of serving the Lord in participating in His kingdom, and also helps us to remember all of the blessings that we too often take for granted.
My friend, if you are struggling through this Christmas season, know that it is ok. You are not expected to stop feeling sadness, or put on a brave face for those around you, happiness is not required of you. But may I exhort you to cling to the hope and joy that can be found in Jesus Christ. He is more than able to sustain you through this season of life, to heal whatever wounds you may be carrying, and who knows, maybe next Christmas won’t be so hard.