I’ve been thinking and praying about how to walk through Christmas when my heart is not holly or jolly. I’ve always heard that Christmas is the most difficult time of the year for many people. I can understand that now in a deeper way (which, in a way, is a gift because now I can approach this season with wider eyes of grace; with more compassion for the hurting). The first Christmas 2000+ years ago was not especially holly, or jolly…but it was joyFULL. Overflowing with joy unconfined by the seemingly imperfect circumstances of the manger birth.
Joy is deeper, richer, fuller than the saccharine sweet, plastic-y hollow Santa Christmas. Joy is setting our eyes on the redemption story ahead; a redemption story that is often through thorny paths. The redemption story of how God wants to turn the most evil to the most beautiful. Joy is being surrendered and willing to whatever purposes allow for God’s glory. “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as He has said”. (Luke 1:38) This is where I’m desperately trying to fix my eyes. Through God’s grace, many moments I am able….and when I do, joy is there. When my eyes look down, I always get a text, or an encouraging message, or a phone call to remind me that THERE IS A BIGGER picture here. To “Lift up my eyes to the hills”…that’s where all of you come in.
God inhabits this story, but my story is NOT unique. God inhabits your story, too, as messy and hard as it is. Jesus longs to reveal Himself in whatever brings you heartache this Christmas. Redemption is always coming…fix your eyes there, and the truest joy of Christmas will be full in you, too.
Here are some scriptures and quotes…some “Christmas Comforts”, that establish my heart in the face of suffering
Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
“He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Corrie ten Boom, who survived a Nazi death camp, said “Every experience God gives us…is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.”
Philippians 3:8, 10-11 (Amplified)
I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.
When we have little and have lost much, Christ comes and reveals himself as more valuable than what we have lost. And when we have much and are overflowing in abundance, Christ comes and he shows that he is far superior to everything we have.