When Joy Feels Hard to Find at Christmas

Christmas is almost here, which means you are almost through one of the hardest seasons in which to manage your emotions. With “Joy!” and “Peace!” ringing in the air and forced-family-fun-times which are really anything but, the pain of your fractured relationships can be magnified. It is much more common to feel lonely, left out, and forgotten than it is to be belting out “Joy to the World” in your shower.

The pain, the disappointments, and the bad memories are all very real. Your childhood delight in Christmas, if you ever had it, was jaded a long time ago. And it never helps to simply shove the distress to the back of your mind as you plow ahead through the day. This can make you feel even more fake and disconnected.

However, what if you challenged yourself to enjoy the moments for what they are? The music, the lights, the cookies you only get this time of the year. What if you chose to enjoy a deep breath of the crisp winter air, and let that second of peace wash over you? What if you actively looked for the moments of reprieve and rested your heart in them? Like the hours when he or she is away and the house is quiet, or the chance to walk through the mall just enjoying the presence of other people. What if you belted out “O Holy Night” in your most powerful bravado and let yourself feel it to your core?

Proverbs 14:13 says, “Even in laughter the heart may ache.” The implication in this is that while your heart may ache, it is possible to enjoy the moment. A normal human condition is to carry the pain of our brokenness and that of the world around us and still be able to find joy in it as well. That is such a picture of Grace!

When you strip away all the distractions, the reason for the season is truly the reason for it all.  We remember His birth, even while our hearts yearn desperately for the hope it represents. In the end, He will have the last say, and all things will be made right.

In John 16:33 Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  What a great and redeeming promise! And with that promise ringing out in our hearts, no matter what our circumstances might be, the words “Joy to the world, the Lord has come” can be an anthem of hope for us all.


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